Museum of Brisbane

A Brisbane artist: Benjamin Werner

To celebrate the launch of A city without art is a city without heart campaign we spoke with a number of local Brisbane artists and asked why they think Brisbane should support the local art community.

Over the past few years Museum of Brisbane has developed a close working relationship with local artist, Benjamin Werner. Benjamin has worked with the Museum on a range of projects such as exhibition installs and off-site projects, and a number of his works feature in the Museum’s collection, some of which are currently displayed in The River: A history of Brisbane. 

Museum of Brisbane (Museum): Have you always lived in Brisbane?

Benjamin Werner (BW): I was born just a few kilometres from Fortitude Valley/New Farm, which is where I live now and also have my studio. I’ve travelled extensively and yet as an adult, I’ve always been based in inner city Brisbane. There are lots of other cities I often dream about moving too, but having grown up here, studied here and built long lasting connections in the arts and business communities it’s hard for me to leave.

Museum: Tell me about your works and their relationship to living in Brisbane?

BW: For many years all of my works have developed a direct relationship with my immediate environment and for many years this has been Brisbane. Though, due to more frequent travels throughout Australia and overseas I’ve gained new vantage points to explore. My most recent works were developed from drawing and photographic studies made of Brisbane, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Melbourne and other cities where I explore everyday intricacies of negotiating inner city life.

Museum: What do you find most enjoyable about being an artist based in Brisbane?

BW: The light has always fascinated me – both day and night – it has a certain quality that I haven’t found anywhere else in my travels.

Museum: What impact do you think local artists have on the city’s DNA?

BW: Myself like a lot of artists I know often work in galleries, museums, public art, teaching positions and many other arts related activities that put us in direct contact with other artists, businesses, students and many people who have less interaction with the arts or are just learning. These relationships develop collaborations and ideas. I’ve seen the excitement and courage art teaching can offer people and different ways that artists solve problems in these others roles often leading to amazing outcomes and solutions.

Museum: How important is it that Brisbane celebrates and supports its local artists?

BW: It is greatly important that the people, businesses and government celebrate local artists. Most artists I know self-fund all aspects of their practice from making the works to exhibiting, transporting, and documenting through catalogues and websites. Any support such as purchasing works from exhibitions, offering studio or exhibiting space, and commissioning of new work all help develop the industry and artist’s career, which in turn develops the local business and arts community.

This initiation of business, community and organisations celebrating their local artists, boosts the overall artistic environment, allowing artists to develop and extend connections both nationally and internationally.

The support I have received through local collectors and galleries, collections such as Museum of Brisbane, local business, government and the private sectors is invaluable to a professional artist.

Find out more about how you can help the Museum continue to encourage and support Brisbane artists through our A city without art is a city without heart campaign.

Images: Simon Marsh | Panoptic Press, H.D Video Still, 2014.

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