Benjamin Shine is one of the newest artist/designer that has blurred the lines between art in the galleries and art on the catwalks. I am a massive fan of this growing trends of fashion is art and art is fashion.
The both feed into each other and after speaking with Benjamin and discovering his linked background in Fashion Design and Sculpture I’m sure this new trend is heading in a beautiful and stunning direction.
What I want to share with MESS readers is where did you begin? Did you always want to be an artist? How did this journey come about?
Yes, I always loved art at school and would spend every opportunity in the art room or in the design / wood-making room. When I was fifteen, I completed a work placement for a small fashion label and they ended up putting my shirt designs on their range. That small achievement gave me the confidence to purse fashion design as a degree. During my degree I became increasingly interested in more conceptual ideas as well as one-piece pattern cutting. I received a 1st BA hons degree and went on to Central St Martins and during my time there my work became really sculptural and unwearable! At that point I realised there was potential through the medium of fabric to create works that could be exhibited as art, in a gallery rather than a catwalk.
I saw that your earlier works were mainly 3D based… what was the inspiration behind the change from wooden sculptures to 2D Tulle?
I liked the idea of ‘painting with fabric’ – and that lead to the technique of pleating a single piece of tulle into a detailed or recognizable image. This evolved over a long journey in which I used fabrics in many other ways to create image-based works as well as sculptural and abstract pieces – mostly using techniques I had learnt through garment construction.
You Also did a collaboration with Givenchy! That is awesome. What was it like to do the collaboration? Did you foresee your work translating into high fashion?
I hadn’t really considered clothing to be an application for my tulle technique, but Riccardo was interested in the relationship between art and fashion and how my work could convey the religious iconography he was exploring. It was a wonderful experience and the pieces made quite a bold statement particularly in deflecting ideals of practicality in favour of artistic expression. Having studied fashion, I have always held the great fashion houses in very high esteem as a barometer for freshness and creativity. To come full circle and be invited to collaborate was very special to me.
What has been the most memorable collaborations?
I loved working with Eurostar to create a new staff bag from their waste textiles. Creating the Box Lounger from a British telephone box for British Telecom was also good fun and equally challenging. The most memorable project would be my children’s creative activity, Cordz. It was very exciting to see the product developed into a full range and sold around the world. It gave me a greater sense of confidence in pursuing my ideas on a grander scale.
What is your plans for the future?
At the moment my main focus is on my Tulle work. I have several brand collaborations in the pipeline and am planning a show in New York, which will take the medium into a new and larger-scale territory. Aside from my tulle work I always enjoy inventing and will continue to develop new ideas – always with a view to providing something memorable, enjoyable or simply useful. Currently I am developing my Rekindle regenerating candle concept, which had an enormous response online earlier this year.
And here is the FIRST Tulle works that started it all off…