Halifax artist Ben Johnson is now exhibiting at the Brazilian Embassy in London. His sculpture of a mythical Latin American bird entitled 'El Pajarraco' was one of the entries selected for the VIA Arts Prize 2018 exhibition.
The theme of the competition this year was Dialogues with Latin American, Spanish and Portuguese arts and cultures.
Ben's artwork fuses two cultures; Latin American and European. It is inspired by artworks from both continents, the totems created by indigenous peoples in Latin America and the use of collage and sculptures made from recycled everyday objects, which was started by European artists like Picasso.
‘El Pajarraco’ represents the natural world and the transcendent nature of migration – in this case not only of birds but also people. Entirely made of recycled materials, the artwork also draws attention to humanities excessive use of materials which results in the contamination of the planet.
Ben studied Visual Communication at the Glasgow School of Art. He has lived and worked in Italy, Panama and Germany. He now lives in Halifax with his Panamanian wife.
Ben said: "I was delighted to have my piece selected for this year's exhibition. I was a particularly impressed by how my sculpture was displayed, in front of the ornate gold and marble fireplace, a contemporary piece of art against a classical setting. "
The VIA Arts Prize is London’s bespoke visual Ibero-American themed arts competition. It is organised by ACALASP (the Association of Cultural Attachés of Latin America, Spain and Portugal) and is supported by People’s Palace Projects from Queen Mary University of London and Instituto Cervantes.
The 30 pieces included in the exhibition are chosen by an impressive jury panel, comprised of seven prolific art practitioners headed by James Nicholls, managing director of Maddox Gallery, London.
The exhibition is held in the embassy's striking Sala Brasil gallery, the former ticket hall for the Oceanic Steamship Company, where it is said tickets for the Titanic were sold.
The exhibition is open to the public until 31 January.
There is a People’s Choice Award for the visiting public’s favourite artwork. Visitors can vote in situ and results will be revealed at the end of the exhibition.