Bryony Benge-Abbott (b. 1984) is a British Trinidadian artist working in painting, drawing, street art, textiles and installation. She has a background curating science and social history exhibitions, which has shaped a creative practice that considers multiple dimensions to the ways in which we relate to nature, exploring the entangled space where art, science and spirituality meet.
Over the past six years, Benge-Abbott has worked with world-leading scientists in biomedical research and ecology on numerous public art projects as both artist and curator and has exhibited her street art and textile designs internationally. Anima will be her first solo exhibition. Her murals can be found in England, Tobago and Greece, she leads guided ‘wild drawing’ walks across southeast England and in 2019 her commitment to community engagement through street art was acknowledged by the Mayor of London, who highlighted Benge-Abbott as a ‘hidden credit to the city’ as part of International Women’s Day celebrations. Benge-Abbott recently established and led the exhibitions programme at the UK’s largest lab, The Francis Crick Institute, where she curated the 2018 exhibition Deconstructing Patterns: Art and Science in Conversation. Since leaving this role, she has spent the past two years developing a new body of work to be exhibited together for the first time in this inaugural solo show.
Many of the works in Anima have been inspired by recent commissions with, for example, social scientists at the British Ecological Society, ecologists at Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, environmental historians at the University of Liverpool and landscape architects at LDA Design. Street art projects with community groups in collaboration with organisations such as Somerset NHS Foundation, Octopus Energy and St Mungo’s have also informed her latest body of work. As her public art develops, Benge-Abbott’s studio paintings are becoming ever-more spatial and dynamic, built-in layers of oil, spray paint, acrylic, pencil, ink, resin, paper, glass and textile, and drawing on folklore, mythology and somatic movement.
Benge-Abbott immerses herself in the landscapes she paints, curious about how we can deepen feelings of belonging to something bigger and richer than human-defined labels allow. Her vibrant palette and layering of patterns play with the sensation of losing/finding ones self in the wild; figures and fragments of meaning and memory dissolve into and emerge from the land, unravelling the Western gaze of nature as ‘Other’ or as something to be tamed or owned. Ritual and ancestral memories meet cultural and political histories. They are combined with an increasingly embodied approach to mark-making, developed during a research residency at Orleans House Gallery last year.