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Upcoming exhibition, Ben McAlpine, "Home"

Upcoming exhibition, Ben McAlpine, "Home"

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Marlborough artist Ben McAlpine has taken flight with an upcoming exhibition at Ashton Grove, Auckland.

His works, some of which showcased his love for birds and simplistic style, attracted the attention of Ashton Grove showroom and gallery owner Emma Davies.

"I had seen an article in the Marlborough Express late last year and was so impressed that I approached Ben about exhibiting his work," she says.

The Newmarket furniture showroom also exhibits artwork and Emma says it tied in with the exhibition name, Home.

"The paintings are of his home, like the Queen Charlotte Sound and Cook Strait, and it's reflected in the showroom setting, as the paintings are set out like they are in someone's home."

Ben says that he chose subjects that resonate with New Zealanders.

"I like to think that my paintings remind Kiwis of home," he says.

Ben, originally from Masterton, has lived in the Marlborough Sounds for more than 15 years. Many of his paintings are of birds, a long-standing fascination, he says.

Ben says he was inspired to paint after seeing a Don Binney painting of a fantail during a tour of the National Museum in Wellington when he was 12.

As well as the simple lines and clarity of his bird paintings, the Ashton Grove exhibition also revealed a series of darker paintings about Ernest Shackleton rescuing his team of men from Antarctica.

Ben says the grim scenario of being stranded in Antarctica gave the paintings a more gritty contrast to the clear and peaceful bird paintings which he says are "reliably loved" by fans of his work.

He says the Shackleton paintings also relate to the exhibition theme.

"Shackleton was determined to bring his men home," he says.

Ben started seriously painting when he was 25, and is now a full-time artist. He says he paints three days a week and spends the rest of his time hang gliding and windsurfing.

"It's not a bad life, actually," he says.

He says he is also inspired by artist Michael Smither, who lived with his mother for 10 years and encouraged him to paint.

"He was definitely a huge influence on me, I really took a lot from him," Ben says.

Feedback from his recent Wellington exhibition, also at Ashton Grove, has been positive.

"People tend to tell me that my works are vibrant, bright, crisp and clear," he says.

Ben has three more exhibitions coming up at the Ashton Grove showrooms in Auckland, Christchurch and Melbourne. "I'm really lucky to be getting this kind of exposure so soon," he says.

* The Ben McAlpine exhibition, Home, will be on show at the Ashton Grove showroom and gallery, 2 Railway St, Newmarket, 24th May until 28th June.


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