Bobby Benjamin Opens New Exhibition DEERO
We caught up with Artist, Alumni and Co-director of Pineapple Black Arts Bobby Benjamin who will be opening a new exhibition of solo work this month entitled Deero. Raised in Redcar, he studied our ND in photography before developing his practice in Fine Art. As an active member of our local artistic community and creative professional we were excited to hear more about this new work and gain some insight in to his creative career.
Tell us about your new Exhibition DEERO!
DEERO is a collection of new works that approach themes such as cultural hegemony, the marketization of cultural production and the fetishization working class culture. I’m from a low income background, I grew up on a council estate and yet I exist in an industry with only 16% working class representation. It is a dynamic that I explore both observationally and introspectively in this new body of work.
Can you give us an overview of your practice and any other projects you are working on?
I work predominantly in found objects and paint and my practice explores themes of class, masculine identity and place. Alongside my visual practice, I am also co-director and occasional curator at Pineapple Black Arts.
You co-founded art space Pineapple Black just over 3 years ago, can you tell us about the journey from starting to now?
When we founded Pineapple Black we only intended to ‘pop-up’ for a couple of months but it’s grown to become an important part of our town’s ecology. The biggest challenge we face is just keeping the space open and operational without funding. Being based in a shopping centre, we attract a very non-traditional audience. I love when people come in who have never been to a gallery before – some of them really connect with it! To be able to facilitate that is a beautiful thing.
You also founded art collective Picasso Baby can you tell us more about it?
Picasso Baby was a project I initiated with John James Perangie and Disgraceland that was all about collaboration, sharing and building a support network for the creative community. We put on live events, painting parties, day trips and made a collaborative magazine. Perangie and I are both very busy artists though and have decided to take a hiatus from the project while we focus on our own arts practices in ‘22, but I’m sure we’ll pick it back up in the future.
What advice would you give our students about getting involved/starting out?
Take yourself seriously and surround yourself with other artists who do the same. Network with galleries and other creatives, learn how to write a good press release and get your work out there in people’s faces. Ask yourself lots of questions too; even if you don’t have the answers, it’ll help you better understand your own arts practice, which sounds obvious but is really important.
How is the NSA special for you?
It’s been an integral part of my own journey. It was studying with NSA that gave me the tools and confidence to pursue a future in the arts, and I feel like they’ve always supported my career. It’s really special for me that I still get to come back now, meet the students and try to share some of my knowledge. Without the talented artists that come out of NSA it would be a lot tougher to fill my programme at Pineapple Black too.
Make sure you check out DEERO at Pinneapple Black Arts in Middlesbrough. You can find more of Bobby’s work on his instagram @bobbybenjamin and keep up to date with exhibitions and events by following @pineappleblackarts.