BENJAMIN WRIGHT was known as Raymond Ellis in Asia. That was his alias, but since returning to Australia and Queensland’s Gold Coast in particular, his moniker has been the original.
Ben’s what they call ‘a doer’ in Australia and the opportunities he’s taken and now pursuing, they have been of his own making.
After spending time at university (Creative Industries) and his Asian venture, Ben landed a top job with leading skate brand Element. Frustrated with the level of marketing input into creative, the novelty soon wore off and Ben moved on. He noticed a lack of artist run spaces on the Gold Coast and decided to redress this situation.
With a friend, Ben took over a warehouse space in Coolangatta. They held exhibitons there for local and up-and-coming artists. They turned opening nights into a different style of event by hiring bands and drawing in a different demographic.
Noise restrictions brought a premature end to the warehouse space after just six months of operation. While his friend moved on, Ben wasn’t keen to let up just yet and got another space up and running.
The important thing for Ben about running this style of creative space has been to provide an opportunity for unrepresented artists to exhibit their work, but also get the right balance with more established creatives.
Ben is studying Interdisplinary Arts and still produces work himself. When asked to put a title to what he does – artist, designer, facilitator – he settles on the latter.
He is planning to take a group of artists to Japan (he has just returned) and likes the idea of cross cultural engagement through collaborative exhibitions in similar artist-run spaces overseas. Ben said people need to experience artwork in the flesh rather than just via replicated form online or in books.
Slanted Mansion put a few extra questions to Ben:
Why is it important to see/feel/touch art – how does this enhance or change the viewing experience?
Art is subjective to experience and can be experienced in both a digitally mediated form or in a real life scenario. In my opinion, authentic experience, that is a lived experience, tends to have a more profound impact than the experience with a re-representation of the work.
What type of art are you currently creating?
My approach to “art” tends to be familiar with installation territory. When I am not titling projects I have seen through as ‘art’ perhaps they could not be considered. I have a more open approach to the subject. I see my current role in creative facilitation as a form of art, in the way that I am engaging spaces that were previously unoccupied. This changes the dynamic and method of peoples interaction with the space and directly influences their perspective to the role or function of that particular space and place in time.
Have you developed any connections with artist-run spaces in Japan?
While in Tokyo, we made contact with a vast body of amazing creative individuals, One to mention is an artist by the name of COBRA. He runs a very special exhibition Initiative called XYZ Collective.
How different/similar are these spaces to what is created in Australia?
Every space and place is unique, an idea that is translated to a tangible existence is beautiful and unique. Cultural influence is interesting; this is a measurable point of comparison and something I wish to explore.
Check out Ben’s Gallery Comb Art Space.