Featured Artist 2016: Ben Robertson (BOKRA)
Published: 31 May 2016
Holly Smith spent the afternoon capturing the talented Street-Artist Ben Robertson, otherwise known as BOKRA, creating new work at his studio in town and also at the popular Skate Park by the Jersey Maritime Museum. BOKRA has been creating original street-art in Jersey for a number of years after having returned to the island after completing his degree and working as an illustrator. His unique work can be seen around St Helier, on buildings such as Gallery Magazine's home-base by Minden Street Carpark, and have brought character and creative soul to local Festivals including Reasons, Jersey Live, Folklore and Spice Festivals by creating things live such as grafitti-art to cover the Heras fencing around the festival site with his street art crew! This year BOKRA will be sharing Jason Butler's studio with fellow young and inspiring illustrators Will Bertram and Abi Overland (each with their own unique style) as well as Jason himself. Taking part as an official Artist in Skipton Open Studios for the first time this year we chatted to Ben about his work to find out more about the exciting things he's working as part of the project....
"What medium do you work with?
Spray Paint/Mixed media
How would you describe yourself as an Artist?
Currently working as a full time artist out of my town studio, I am accepting commissions on and off island. Being fundamentally inspired by my surroundings and the present moment, sight and sound plays a large role in my paintings. With a Degree in 2D hand drawn animation, 3 years as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, these influences still exist in my current work, even if undefined or unnoticeable. Geometric confined edges, and expressive loose forms portray contrast, old and new, realism and abstract, nature and industry. I am at a stage now where I am watching, listening, noting, letting be, letting go and forever generating the question, what is my way, what is my path.
Have you taken part in Skipton Open Studios before?
I was partly involved in Skipton Open Studios 2013. Whilst I was part of the Kartoon Faktory. Oli Nightingale and myself painted a container in Weighbridge place.
How did you first get into Art?
Constantly drawing as a child, I would obsessively copy car photography and always challenge my friends and family to drawing competitions! A very recent change on my path is due to graffiti and the medium of spray paint. Pushing me away from the confined details of pencil and pen, and into being more confident and expressive. The scale of the artworks went from A3 sketches to paintings several metres wide and reachable only by ladder. The ephemeral nature of graffiti and street art also initiated the non-clinging to my artwork.
Who is your creative inspiration?
I am inspired by many artists from around the world and locally including Jason Butler (Jersey figurative artist), OS Gemeos (Brazilian street artists), David Choe (American artist), Action Bronson (Musician), Mondrian, MC Escher, Kandinsky (Old masters), Philippe Caza and Jean 'Moebius' Giraud (Bandes dessinée).
Why should we visit your Studio?
I will not be exhibiting in my studio, instead I will be using Jason Butlers, alongside Abi Overland and Will Bertram.
What have you been doing so far in preparation for this year’s Open Studios?
For the first time I am creating a body of work with an intention to exhibit. I began working in several sketchbooks, researching art history at the Jersey Library, listening to many podcasts and talks on a range of subjects. I travelled to New York and London in search of inspiration from new surroundings and galleries. During recent commissions I have been applying my new found experiments using a range of mediums. I am currently working on several large scale studio pieces using a range of mediums. In the build up to the exhibition I will be painting the Gunsite Café bunker during the West Open Studios.
What can we expect from you from this year’s Open Studios?
From here on.
Describe Jersey’s creative scene in 5 words…
Waking up to international uniqueness."
We think Ben's passion for street-art is pretty infectious, and we can't wait to see what he's going to be creating for this year's Open Studios during the East weekend: 2nd + 3rd July, 10:00 AM - 5:00PM, and will enjoy watching his live painting of the Gunsite Café the weekend before during the West weekend of Open Studios! Check out Ben's artist profile for directions to Jason's studio, links to his website and for his contact details.
Photos courtesy of Holly Smith Commercial Photography.