Harper’s Bazaar Art: How has your immersion in sailing and surfing in the Atlantic Ocean influenced your practice?
Ben Barrell: When creating my sculptures I work very intuitively with clay or wax in my hands. Once a form starts to appear I create and highlight the shapes that intrigue me and remould the shapes that don't 'feel' right. When it works I feel like I am filtering memories into clay.
My work is really a response to my lifetime of experience and imagery. The memories and inspirations that I find beautiful and beguiling are those that seem to make their way into my clay forms. Many are probably unconscious images which have struck a lasting memory. So my experience with the Atlantic Ocean has shaped much of my forms. My signature shapes are seductive curves and if I think about it consciously, those curves are repeated in many forms across the ocean. Most obviously in the curve of a rising wave but also in the curves formed by a bow cutting through water and also the shape of water displaced by elegant sea creatures as they travel effortlessly across the surface. My love of sailing and surfing is the closest I can get to being part of the ocean and it reminds me constantly how vulnerable we are as humans when the weather takes a sudden change or rip tides emerge and we are just terrestrial mammals relying on our man made toys to stay afloat.
Much of life is repetitive and conformist but when we push ourselves and grab inspiring moments it is those experiences that inform my work. I feel sure that as my life progresses so will the feel of my work and new and intriguing themes will shine through the everyday.
HBA: What inspired the conceptual development of the sculpture entitled Wings, which you will be installing at The Address Boulevard Dubai?
BB: The Wing form is an ongoing exploration of form and function within my work. As I create my shapes, the wing shape often comes through. The innate elegance and beauty of a bird’s wing or sea creature’s fin echoes throughout much of my work. I am attracted to elegant, organic forms and I felt that the evolution, optimism and inspirational vision for Dubai seemed to be reflected in the pairing of two wings looking towards the future together. They reach up supported by each other’s presence as if they are contemplating a future filled with aspiration and dreams.
HBA: Has the landscape of Dubai influenced the sculptural installation?
BB: Yes, I have never made a sculpture on such a large scale (it is over 7 metres tall) with the purity of the white surface. This combination of height and unblemished surface finish felt right to complement the unequalled vastness of the desert which is offset by the endless blue sky of Dubai.The desert sand is shaped by the wind as are the waves across the ocean. I hope my forms reflect these fluid natural sculptures.
HBA: How do you hope visitors will be impacted by the sculpture installed at The Address Boulevard Dubai?
BB: Everyone will have their own thoughts but I hope visitors may experience a feeling of serenity and a desire to walk around the sculpture to engage with the relationship between the two wings. I want them to take a moment out of their busy lives, if only for a few seconds.
For further information on The Address Boulevard Dubai click here.