About Philippa Bentley
Philippa Bentley is a New Zealand artist whose work has been reviewed as "highly unusual and utterly delightful".
"My work is usually inspired by nature, often with a twist."
Philippa grew up with a large, rambling garden - fascinated by insects, damming ponds in the creek and building huts in the bush. Apparently it was where her parents could always find her- any time of day, any weather.
"I love the idea of retaining a sense of wonder in the world."
Philippa has always lived close to the sea and now spends much time on the water, too, sailing.
It is not surprising that Philippa's artwork has been inspired by these experiences and reflects the careful observation of the natural world through her detailed drawings, usually imbued with an additional layer of contemplation- the social, cultural and ecological - which Philippa aims to communicate through her art.
In this way, her work operates on different levels from the purely aesthetic through to reflecting on our essential and changing relationship with the natural world in the Anthropocene.
While primarily known as a painter and printmaker, Philippa incorporates a range of media and processes in her multi-disciplinary art practice and has a growing interest in the intersection of art, design, science and technology and the possibilities this brings.
She has been incorporating Augmented Reality in to her art practice since 2014.
Philippa has two senior academic prizes from the University of Auckland but she has drawn, painted and written since she can remember and ultimately committing to a career as an artist always felt like her natural path. She has been working professionally as an artist for fifteen years. Philippa has won awards in painting, printmaking and design and has been a finalist in a number of national and international awards. Philippa exhibits regularly and has work held in collections in New Zealand and overseas.
"I hope my work brings you reflection and joy."
Artist’s Statement on my current bodies of work available at Flagstaff Gallery:
The Soar paintings
Big sky. Big sea. Big space. Big calm.
Watching seabirds glide, flow and soar gives me such a feeling of quiet strength, space and calm.
The simplicity in the paintings is deliberate and its effect calming and uplifting.
Acrylic on canvas.
Paper seas – the marine charts
Maps and sea charts record the explored, known world reassuring us- we know where we're going. However, with climate change and warming, acidifying oceans we are currently heading in to the unknown, in to uncharted waters. Hic sunt dracones! ‘Here Be Dragons’ was marked on early maps and sea charts to signify uncharted territory, the great vast scary Unknown. And so,
I am embellishing the charts sometimes with our flora and fauna (seabirds, whales shells), and sometimes with my own ‘dracones’ for a more whimsical artwork featuring strange but beautiful creatures from my imagination. The future is unknown but it may still be beautiful.
With AR Dolfish app.
Philippa also takes commissions, via the gallery, for original paintings on a sea chart of your choosing. Choosing a chart of an area with special significance to you makes a very personal artwork to treasure.
The Paper Boats.
A paper boat at sea conveys an image of fragility or vulnerability effectively reminding that our seas are in need of care. An array of diatoms on the inside surfaces of the boat see it become a protective vessel, an ark.
With AR Dolfish app.
A fascination with insects, that’s lasted from playing in her sprawling childhood garden and in the creek down at the bottom of the bush, inspired Philippa’s well established ‘Insects and Memories’ series. This is a series of insect collections presented as museum boxes.
“Just as a butterfly is caught and preserved in a specimen box, so do we capture our experiences and archive them as our memories. We are all collectors of memories, experiences, sensations, fragments of days that layer us up and make us who we are.”
“I love visiting natural history collections. I believe our natural history collections are as much about the collector as the collected; as much about our social history and the context of the time, as they are about the natural flora and fauna preserved. I use natural history collections as a metaphor for presenting my themes and thoughts. In this way my artwork can be simply enjoyed aesthetically yet functions on different levels, with both personal or social meaning; layer on layer and often includes an image within an image.”