Monday, November 14, 2011

on the bookshelf : Billy Benn

It's Monday.... and im still recovering from the week that was. 
Family wedding, catch ups with relatives, car accidents, and the purchase of my first car, have all left me feeling a little shell shocked. Summer has also decided to come early, so as I write this, I am hiding in a cool room with a fan in front of my face! 

So what do you do when you want to find some peace in the day? You pull out a recent book purchase that you haven't truly absorbed yet.... and devour! 

On my recent trip to Canberra I was fortunate to see the beautiful exhibition Good Strong Powerful at the National Gallery of Australia. Focusing on new directions in indigenous art, this exhibition showcases some beautiful pieces by Billy Benn Perrurle, who is a favourite artist of mine. Billy Benn is a self taught painter, based at the Bindi Inc Centre in Alice Springs. In 2000, Billy decided to pick up a paint brush and render images of his homeland, his 'country', on scavenged bits of timber and plastic foam. And immediately people started to take notice of his intuitive style of mark making which is loose and full of colour. 
And that is what I love about his work. 

After i saw the exhibition I knew I needed I try and find any publications that would give me big, colourful images of Billy's work.... and low and behold.... I found a copy of this book at The National Portrait Gallery on the same trip to Canberra. 
The book is so beautiful as it takes you on a journey through Billy's work and his homeland. With the aide of co author Catherine Peattie, Billy's life journey comes to life and you really get the sense that you are walking through his amazing 'country'....
I always love a good image of an artists' hands at work....

Its all about the colours. The red earth and the blue blue sky....

Through the book places are named.... maps are drawn...

.... and words are written in Billy's hand.

Billy Benn Perrurle (left) and Catherine Peattie (right)
Exhibition catalogue for Good strong Powerful (left) and Billy Benn cover art - Painting called Artetyerre 2006 (right)

Billy Benn really is a book worth discovering.
I have loved absorbing each colourful page, and I hope you have enjoyed this tiny tour through these few pages...

Billy Benn
by Billy Benn Pewrrurle + Catherine Peattie
IAD Press
Alice Springs
ISBN 978 1 86465 116 4 

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