Ben Young is a self-taught artist who has been making glass sculptures for over 15 years. As a surfer and boat builder, his love for the ocean is evident in his ongoing collection of concrete and glass sea-themed sculptures.
Young’s work explores the use of industrial materials to compliment the organic glass shapes. He likes the idea that concrete is a basic construction material, and enjoys the physical and visual contrasts between the textures and colours of glass and concrete, with the latter material being an integral part of his art forms.
Each of the pieces is hand-drawn, hand-cut and handcrafted from clear sheet float glass, then laminated layer upon layer. Young explains, “I work with 2D shapes and have to figure out how to translate that into a 3D finished piece. Sometimes my starting point changes dramatically as I have to find a way to layer the glass to create certain shapes.”
Textured concrete forms are interwoven between layers of semi-transparent glass, forming intricate terrain-like landscapes. The juxtaposition of colour and texture is evident in the smoothness of the blue ocean and rocky terrain of the grey shore. Small bronze figurative carvings, sculpted initially from wax, portray a narrative suggested in the landscape.
While Young has been working with glass since he was a teenager, with most of his skills acquired from his dad, he says that working with concrete has been his biggest challenge. He found that mixing glass and concrete can be unpredictable and understanding how concrete dries, shrinks and expands has been key to mastering this art form, which required Young to do a lot of research, testing and consulting of experts before he was able to perfect the formula of combining the two materials.
“I hope viewers might imagine the work as something ‘living’ that creates the illusion of space, movement, depth and sense of spatial being,” he says.
Photography: Ben Young