Let me introduce you to Ben Mellor, a close friend of mine and a very talented artist.
I have known Ben for about 12 years…the friendship between our families goes back three generations. I remember the first time we met as children at Ben’s Grandmother’s house. I was 6 years old, Ben was eleven, and I think I must have been rather in awe of this older figure because, according to Ben, I quickly went out into the garden and scurried up the nearest apple tree! We met again many years later, as adults, and I remember our conversation being about art, music and literature. Over the following years I visited Ben many times in London in various locations (which have never been boring). He has lived above his own recording studio in Willesden, where sometimes I was lucky enough to hear Roy Ayers practicing in the studio next door. He then moved to an enormous Dutch Grain Barge moored near St Katherines Dock before finally settling in Stoke Newington, which is where he now has a studio adjoining his flat.
Ben has also been to visit me many times on the Isle of Wight and it was after one such visit that an artistic idea was sparked. My boyfriend at the time was dyslexic and read the “Levi’s” logo on Ben’s shirt as “Elvis”. This started a clever series of stencils which played on logos and our perceived meaning of them. Google became Greedy and Woolworths became Worthless when they closed down in 2009.
As an artist myself, I love to visit the studio. I’m not a very politically minded person but I appreciate that Ben’s work often carries a meaning. The process of what he thinks about, and cares about, gets carried through to his work in a wonderfully creative way. I always have to poke my nose in the studio to soak up the chaos….it’s how an artist’s studio should be. No time to clear up, wash brushes, tidy things away….just get into the process of creation. The studio walls (and windows) are a brilliant example of this creative energy in action.
My favourite painting of Ben’s is entitled Elephant. I would love to hang it in my living room but Ben loves it as much as I do (I would also have a problem carrying it on the bus), so I have to make do with looking at this photo every now and again!
In 12 years we probably should have embarked upon some artistic ventures together, but it hasn’t happened yet, although we often talk about it. I did however contribute to Ben’s alternative Christmas tree last year and painted a few masks in my signature black and white style.
Ben’s work can be seen at Espacio Gallery in Bethnal Green opening on the 27th of Feb 2014.