Our mission to perfect your Instagram feed continues, this time with Ben Young's oceanic influence. Residing in New Zealand, Ben Young (@benyoung_sculpture) uses concrete and glass to construct hyperrealistic marinescapes. Having spent his life near – and on – the waves, Young channels his love for the mystery and power of the sea into his mesmerising work. A quick scroll through his Instagram page will uncover his cross-sectional models of the ocean which play with light to beautiful effect as well as a look into the life of a surf-loving creative. We caught a minute with Ben Young in between waves and sculpting to find out how he found his unique style, why the ocean inspires him so much and three people that we all have to follow.
Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Ben. Mount Maunganui, New Zealand is home.
What do you do?
I am a sculptor. I primarily use the mediums of laminated glass, cast concrete, bronze and stainless steel.
What are your earliest creative memories?
The earliest that I can think of is being in my dad's shed pulling toys apart, chopping them up and reassembling them with different parts to create weird new creatures.
Who are your favourite artists?
There are so many amazing artists out there it hard to list them but here are a few off the top of my head in no particular order. Eric Franklin, Mark Alsweiler, Reuben Margolin, Julian Meagher, Mark Whalen, Anthony James, Dustin Yellen, Federico Clapis.
Have you always lived near the ocean?
Yes actually, forever. There hasn’t been a time that I've lived somewhere I could not walk to the sea in less than 10 minutes.
What do you find so inspiring about the ocean?
Everything! Once it captures you, you’re hooked. It’s amazing how getting in the ocean can transform your frame of mind. It energises you and calms you all at the same time. There is also something mysterious and a little bit dangerous about it so you have to really respect it, the power of it is unstoppable.
When did you first make a piece in the style that you’re now known for?
It all started on a family trip to the Greek islands. We stumbled on a wave shaped window display which caught our eye. When we returned home Dad had a crack at making his own version which looked amazing, at this stage I was still too young to be playing with glass but a few years later around the age of 15 I picked up the glass cutter and gave it a go. It’s been a constant state of development since then.
TASCHENBeatriz Milhazes Book£760
PhaidonBertoia: The Metal Worker Book£60
TASCHENHenri Matisse. Cut-outs. Drawing with Scissors Book£30
PhaidonMad Works Book£50
TASCHENDesign of the 20th Century Book£15
TASCHENChristo and Jeanne-Claude: The Floating Piers Book£760
What were the biggest difficulties in developing this style?
The biggest obstacle I have had to over come is perfecting the gluing technique, and even today this is still the major factor. Because the glass is translucent there is no way to hide any imperfection so it needs a lot of time and attention to detail to get it just right.
Are your sculpted landscapes imaginary or real places that you’ve visited?
I do take inspiration from places I have visited, although the works themselves are not generally exact places. I tend to concentrate on the form of the work and how the shape of each piece is going to react with the light and viewer to make it visually dramatic.
How does living in New Zealand affect your work outside of the obvious visual impact?
Like you said the obvious visual comparison is huge, I also find it a little harder to source some of the materials that are available overseas which has forced me to stick to simpler materials. This has worked well for me though, I think. It has meant that I’ve pushed the boundaries in how the materials can be used.
Who are three people we should all follow on Instagram?
Whoever inspires you I guess, I enjoy some of the curated accounts like @work2day and @beninmadrid. An artist I really like at the moment is Anthony James @anthonyjamesstudio and for the greatest pointless use of Instagram I think @kirbyjenner, sorry I know that was four but in amongst the rubbish there is some gold.