Working as a sculptor

 5 September 2012

Ben Long has created sculptures for both public spaces and galleries. He spoke about his career journey.

Ben creates sculptures for public spaces. Lion Scaffolding Sculpture, 2012. Scaffolding construction. Installation view, Bruce Castle Museum
Ben creates sculptures for public spaces. Lion Scaffolding Sculpture, 2012. Scaffolding construction. Installation view, Bruce Castle Museum

"I make visual artworks that are exhibited mainly within the public realm. My work attempts to engage a broad demographic of people.

"Particularly, I aim to engage those who would ordinarily have little or no involvement with contemporary art. I always try to make work that rejects elitism or cultural snobbery. Claes Oldenburg once said something I like: 'Art should do more than sit on its ass in a museum'.

"My art often requires a lot of pre-planning and logistical consideration. A typical day for me might be spent in the studio preparing scale models. I also work at a computer a lot, corresponding with other people about making various projects happen."

Studying art and design

"I studied at Camberwell College of Art and Design. We were taught the principle of 'concept first, craft-based skills second'.

"Ideas are the valuable thing in art and they are democratically available for anyone to experience."

"This has given me a broad appreciation of art and design, but my professional practice is now predominantly fine art-based. It might have made more sense to have studied fine art in the first place. 

"I was influenced by the British artist Darren Lago. I saw his work and wanted to make art that had the same impact. His friendship and guidance have been very important to my development as an artist.

“Ideas are the valuable thing in art and they are democratically available for anyone to experience, regardless of their economic position.

"I never wanted to be the kind of artist that made only one type of work. Some artists are happy to go to the studio every day for 40 years and paint the same kind of thing over and over.

"For me, art needs to be a more active and varied pursuit.

Creating public art

"The actual commissioning of my Scaffolding Sculptures by various organisations has been important. It has enabled me to produce them in relatively rapid succession.

"What I am offering with the project is an alternative to stone or bronze monuments. Scaffolding Sculptures reflect the change and evolution that the urban environment is constantly subjected to.

"For me, there's no distinction between my personal and professional development. They are one and the same thing as far as I'm concerned. What is good for one is good for the other."

Competing in the visual arts sector

"It’s true that many young artists struggle to establish themselves in such an overcrowded industry. Besides raw creative talent, one needs to be willing to work very hard.

"Natural ability has to be matched by hard work, regardless of what activity you are involved in."

"Within my art, I make connections between the work of a creative occupation and those we commonly associate with physical or manual work.

"One reason for this is to override the myth of effortless creativity. Natural ability has to be matched by hard work, regardless of what activity you are involved in." 


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