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  • Ben Browton

INKLINGS #1 - #8 2020-2021



I recently completed my series of 8 individual Inklings. These are all wall-based

constructions, that have their genesis in July 2020, at the height of the ongoing uncertainties around Covid-19. I was able to go back to my studio practice with a greater sense of justification that I was using public transport (the train from Hastings to Bexhill) to get to my place of work, how ever inessential some ministers might deem that to be.


In a way the Inklings were born out of pragmatic necessitation - many shops that supplied materials were closed at the time, and even ebay outlets were running low on supplies. I had loads of plywood offcuts in my studio, and decided to make constructions from it, which I then painted with white primer & undercoat.


I feel that the Covid experience was also making my more reflective than usual, and I wanted to make work that was a combination of something old, something new, something orange & something then grew - the Inklings.


I wanted to make a series of works that all bore the same title, and I chose Inklings. This was a word that followed on from earlier works I had made such as "For those in need of good fortune" and "Turbine' wherein some force beyond our consciousness seems to guide or influence our lives, forces such as luck, fortune, destiny or fate. Somehow Inklings seemed to sum up the place the world suddenly found itself in with the spread of Covid-19, despite the warnings about climate change and overheated hyper-capitalistic systems.


In my mind I had notions of assemblage, of combines, of collage. I wanted to make a series of works that all had a common thread, but that all had an individual narrative. Over the ensuing months, I found I was highly engaged with making these works, and they gave me respite from the ongoing panic over Covid in the outside world. I tended to work back and forth between them as they ranged around the walls of my studio, adding an element to one, and then moving to another to think of elements that I could add. Sometimes I added found objects, sometimes I would make objects. The most common element that I added throughout turned to be the beautiful Chinese plastic display oranges that I had imported from China via ebay, in a strangely parallel manner to the importation of Covid-19, and at roughly the same time. I covered all these oranges in fishnet fabric, which added an element that alluded to the erotic, to the agricultural and to the maritime.


The UK is now hopefully emerging from lockdowns, and we should be able to return to a more normal way of life, thanks to the amazing rollout of the vaccine. Inklings #1 to #8 stand testament to my own journey through this period, and reminds me of the importance of creativity and culture in times of darkness.



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