“Looking at an artwork might be an experience of seeing, feeling, smelling even tasting. In a way, the sense of reality and the imagined combine. Could the viewer have a sensual experience through vision by triggering memories or the imagined senses?”
“When I cook I have a sketchbook on my kitchen bench. I record how a certain action, like grating, might translate to a mark on paper. I use those marks in my paintings. I think of colours like flavours, and how they interact, for example, the smoothness or crunchiness of food translated in terms of visual textures and surfaces. When I'm in the kitchen I want to be in the art studio; when I'm in the art studio, I'm thinking about creating in the kitchen. The two processes are connected.”
Bennett holds a Masters of Fine Arts with First Class Honours from Auckland’s Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design and has been working as a full-time artist for just over a year.
“I’d always thought being a full time artist wasn’t financially possible in New Zealand, but I realised that was just a story I’d told myself.”
In her first year, Bennett sold 24 paintings: 21 herself and three through a gallery. She identifies maintaining motivation and sticking to her business plan as her main challenges.
“It’s not enough to just a make the work. You need to sell, whether that’s selling the work yourself or selling yourself to a gallery. It takes consistent, persistent effort. I’ve learnt to have a thick skin and I know my work isn’t for everyone, but the people that love it, love it. That’s enough.”
I’d always thought being a full time artist wasn’t financially possible in New Zealand, but I realised that was just a story I’d told myself.”
“I’m always blown away with what children can produce when you set them up for success. This also inspires me in my own work. The younger ones especially make confident and interesting marks. Their way of seeing the animals and people is gorgeous. As Picasso said, he spent his whole life trying to draw like a child.”
When it comes to finding inspiration, Bennett suggests not overthinking it.
“I think the key is just to start. Then let each mark dictate the next mark and so on. Like writing a book, you write the first sentence and then the story unfolds. If I ask myself questions like ‘are the colours balancing? is it too busy?’ then the work becomes too contrived somehow. I think it’s better to react to your instinct, which naturally knows the answers to those questions.”
Images courtesy of