To Inspire And Get Inspired - Ben Bhullar
"To inspire to make a difference" has been our mission statement since our humble beginnings 13 years ago. Using the work we do to allow individuals to explore a passion, pursue a dream or improve their lives and the ones of their loved ones is what has also motivated me to push further on our journey whether it may be with our producer groups in India or within our own community.
As a mother to two creative daughters, I find it fascinating to observe their minds at work, their thought process, and to discover their dreams and aspirations.
Our youth is more than ever one that is ready to challenge opinions thriving to create change socially, environmentally or creatively.
Over the last decade, each of the visit of my loyal Anjelms supporter and friend Ai-chng would bring lengthy conversations about guiding our children into adulthood and their chosen career path.
This is how I met Ben, Ai-Chng's son. From challenging him one day to spontaneously do a photo assignment in his early photographic student days to him picking a pile of garments himself this year to work with on his graduation project. I have been astounded by his evolution in subject matter, composition and the confidence that emulates from each shot.
Today, I thought it was time to introduce you to his world of creativity.
What is something that you are proud or passionate about at the moment?
For me, I think I am more proud about how I have come into my own skin, and I am filling it out. It’s been a long time coming but I am so comfortable in my own creativity and me as a person in the communities I belong. I think also, in general, producing work that I love and resonate with. It is the best feeling in the world and I hope to continue doing so. I don’t get the perfect images all the time, because it is a process, but I know that.
What do you think emerging artists need at this time to be nurtured in our community?
I think that every artist, both big and small needs the time, space and surroundings to fulfil their artistic endeavours. I think the most we can do is share the work of our friends, such as in a story, or tagging them in posts so their work and they can be seen - no matter how new or old they are the art scene. If on Instagram, save their work, comment and give them a like and follow. Give your friends some love! From there, it is up to them to blossom and bloom to become the artists they strive to be.
In a world that is quite visually fast paced with social media & content, how do you find reconciliation in the slow movement?
Personally, I have grown so much in this time. I felt that before COVID-19, everything was moving so fast, and now I've had time to reset and grow in this ‘slower’ time. I have looked around me more to find things I did not see before, and that has made me so grateful and confident. I did a project on a concept I like to call image flood or visual flood. It is where there are so many images we consume, that we can just drown and forget those images. In terms of the visual flood of images we consume, I think as a result of this slow period, in many places, people are being more mindful of what they create to a great standard, because some people only get one chance to shoot - like my friends in London, they are currently in constant lockdowns, so they don’t always get the time to shoot. That being said, there are still instances where image flood is prevalent, like in advertising. That being said, I am seeing all my friends produce amazing art, so I cannot complain.
To us at The ANJELMS Project, one of the driving forces of what we do, is honouring the storytelling and tradition of the practice of making textiles. How do you explore tradition through your own creative practice/how do you think tradition influences your craft?
I think for me it is hard to describe. I think that I subconsciously channel my experiences and background into what I make or what I make is a result of who I am as a whole. For me, it is all about how an image feels. I determine a ‘good’ or ‘great’ or ‘amazing’ image by how it feels. That is not to say that I don’t or can’t appreciate anything else, but those are the things that speak to me and resonate with me. I take that approach to what I do. I think the best thing that I learned and also forgot were the basics. I learned them to know what to do, and I forgot them so I am not constrained by those rules per se. Taking it back to tradition and background, I guess I have found a certain softness in Eastern art, as well as harshness. At this point in time, I am focusing on the softness, as I have done the harshness before, but I am open to where it takes me. To me, my art does not resemble Eastern art at all, in fact, it potentially resembles more Western forms, but I believe that the feeling I am chasing is that of both.
What’s next for you?
I don’t have anything in particular on the way, but I am working quietly so please watch my space for upcoming works or potential events (@xrbenjaminbhullar on Instagram).
What would you like your legacy to be?
To be honest, I have never thought about legacy, but I guess I want my art to be celebrated and to inspire. I feel more strongly about the latter because everyone can inspire anyone to be the best they can be, whether it is in the corporate world, or in the arts. I think anyone can work hard, but they need the reason or the inspiration to do so or go above and beyond. My thoughts on this stem from how I am inspired by other artists who practice different mediums, but at the core, everyone is similar. “That could be me!” type thinking, and honestly it could. Although there is a growing amount of Asian artists, as one myself, I would love to see and potentially be at the top of the creative mountain, just to break those stereotypes of Asians. These stereotypes are being broken by so many people and people I know, but I would love for everyone to push for that and to be ‘them’ and everything that makes them, ‘them’, and to feel no shame or guilt in being so. I guess I am a little less passionate about the former idea for my legacy because it is so self-centred. In this, however, I do want my work to be celebrated so that it can take me to new heights, and I ride the wave that is my art and life.