Raised in Waihi Beach, New Zealand now residing in Sydney, Australia, Ben Young is a self-taught artist who has been making glass sculpture for over 10 years.
Using sheet after sheet of carefully cut glass, Young builds both abstract and realistic interpretations of waves and bodies of water, undoubtedly influenced by growing up near the beautiful Bay of Plenty on the northern coast of New Zealand’s North Island. Many people assume his work is made with the help of machines, or maybe even 3D printing, but instead everything is done completely by hand, from his initial sketches on paper to the manual cutting of each glass pane, a process he aptly describes as “a lot of work.”
Having spent most of his life living in the beautiful Bay of Plenty (North Island, NZ) it seemed obvious to him to explore the local landscape and surroundings for early inspiration in his art. The ocean also playing a dominant role in his life being a keen surfer and boatbuilder by trade, he was inspired to capture the perfection and raw power of the sea and of the perfect wave. Other local landscapes including the lonely Mount Maunganui and Mayor Island have featured in his uniquely crafted glass sculptures.
Though overwhelming in their apparent simplicity, what the common eye won’t realise is that each of Young’s sculptures are hand drawn, hand cut and handcrafted, layer on layer to create the end product. There is no high-tech equipment involved but the complexity comes from the planning phase, which Young describes as ‘a lot of work’. Internally, he works out what he wants to make and how he wants it to look, “I do a lot of thinking before I even start to draw or cut”, and he then sketches the concept by hand, brainstorming the look and feel.
“I work with 2D shapes and have to figure out how to translate that into a 3D finished product. Sometimes my start point changes dramatically as shapes can be limited – I can’t create any internal right angles – so I have to find a way to layer the glass to create certain shapes,” says Young.
Only the finest glass and materials are selected to use in his pieces. The texture and colour of the glass is different in every piece he makes, ensuring one-off and truly unique pieces of artwork. “I love watching the two dimensional shapes evolve into three-dimensional creations and the different way the light plays inside the glass. I love the liquid qualities the glass brings with it. It enables me to play with lighting and watch the glass react.”