Philippa Bentley

Philippa Bentley is an Auckland artist whose work is usually inspired by nature, often with a twist.

The sea charts on which Philippa Bentley’s sea creatures are lovingly printed are from the yacht Archangel.
Archangel is a 70 foot schooner built in Canada by C and C Yachts for Michael Davies and launched in 1980. The Davies family enjoyed many adventures on Archangel, sailing her all over the world, before selling her to New Zealand yachtsman Peter Blake. Archangel became Sir Peter and Lady Blake’s family yacht and has a special place in New Zealand’s sailing history and in the hearts of many of the sailing fraternity.
Mike Bundock, Philippa’s partner, purchased Archangel from Lady Blake in Barcelona in 2004. Mike then spent about two years sailing her slowly back to New Zealand. Archangel is currently based in Auckland and can be seen sailing regularly on the Hauraki Gulf.

Many of the maps and charts stored in Archangel’s lockers hint at oceans and lands explored, while others clearly show the sailor’s record, courses plotted in pen or pencil, charted across the flat paper seas.
What better ground for an artist to work on than these sea charts carefully studied, handled and plotted by such sailors. They are unique and special items in themselves, their beauty and value enhanced further by the vision of an artist reflecting on the boldness, curiosity and open spirit of adventurers going bravely in to the unknown.

Philippa exhibits regularly and has work held in both New Zealand and international collections. She produces limited edition fine art prints and paintings, and has received awards in painting, printmaking and design.

Most recently, Philippa was a finalist in the 2015 NZ Painting and Printmaking Awards.

“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.”

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 ‘Insects and Memories’ series which represents her main body of work. 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.”

Philippa’s original insect images are individually screen printed and hand painted on to weatherboards or paper. The use of aged weatherboard started as a play on the 1950’s trend of a butterfly on a weatherboard house and is an integral part of the work.

 “I’m happy if people simply enjoy them visually, but there are layer on layer of subtleties, personal memories, iconic references, heritage brands and humour are layered in to each artwork. One person called them “memory boxes” and they reflect on memory and identity.”