THIS MONTH, PAUL DUNTON INTRODUCES US TO TALENTED LOCAL ARTIST BEN STEEL WHO DOCUMENTS AND SUPPORTS THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE WITH HIS DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS…
In August 2012, a Tunbridge Wells artist named Ben Steel attended the annual Local and Live music festival for the first time. Ben had recently returned from travelling in New Zealand and attended the festival after hearing positive reviews from the previous year. The four day festival was a showcase of all the local bands and musicians and Ben took a keen interest in a number of the acts as well as meeting a few of them over the course of the weekend. Off the back of this, he started to attend the Tuesday and Sunday night showcases held at the Grey Lady and started meeting a number of people within the music circle as well as becoming a fan of a number of the acts.
During the winter of 2013 Ben started to do drawings of some of the local acts who had now become friends as a way of passing the time during the dark evenings. These drawings started to attract the attention of not only the musicians being drawn but also the wider music community and it wasn’t long before Ben was starting to produce work that would be used on EPs. Steffan James was the first to ask Ben to produce his album artwork for The Truth and other acts including Phoebe Katis and Poppy Raine have since had artwork produced by Ben. Having attended the 2012 event, Ben was asked to produce the front cover artwork for the program and CD for the first Local and Live Festival in Calverley Park in 2014. In two years, he had gone from attending the festival to becoming a part of the community and contributing towards the festival.
His style of work has evolved and expanded and now Ben has a diverse and wide range that has contributed towards his own personal project called The Rabbit Whole. He has now produced around 30 drawings of local musicians from bands like The Breretons, Charley Blue and The Standard Lamps as well as creating landscape paintings, portraits and abstract artworks.
Ben explains: “Having initially started doing drawings, I wanted to expand my work to make creative pieces of artwork that musicians could use. The Rabbit Whole was my idea of not limiting what I could create and it became my world where anything was possible. Drawing, acrylics, oils, landscapes – you name it, I’ll challenge myself to do it”. After three years of working with musicians and making his own work, Ben will be showcasing his collection in a week-long exhibition at Trinity Theatre’s gallery in Tunbridge Wells from March 21 to March 26. The exhibition is free to view and will include the original drawings of various musicians which will be for sale. Ben adds: “For any of the drawings of bands sold, half of the proceeds will be donated to the Local and Live Festival for 2017. I have attended the festival, made friends from the festival and revived my own interest in art and it all came about through Local and Live. By selling my work, I have the opportunity to give something back to Paul and his team.”
For a preview of some of the work being displayed and for more information about the exhibition, Ben can be found
on Facebook at www.facebook.com/benjaminattherabbitwhole or on Instagram @therabbitwhole.