In her latest series of paintings, British artist Bryony Bensly focuses on our current environmental constructs—in particular, how animals are treated and how people relate to them. Her pieces combine the figure with endangered species, inviting the viewer to recognize these creatures as well as show the bond between them. October 6 through November 4, RJD Gallery in Bridgehampton, New York, will present the exhibition Seasons of Change with Bensly’s newest works.
“I am a classically trained artist, and I focus primarily on the figure so we can bring ourselves into the images,” says Bensly. “A lot of times I’ll focus on children to get in touch with those aspects of ourselves; to relate to ourselves to what is innocent and reflective…The figurative aspect is important so there is a platform to connect and communicate.”
Bensly does research about the creatures that are depicted in her artwork as well as environmental organizations. Each work also portrays
one figure, symbolizing how just one person can incite change. Take for instance Haven, which shows a woman at center, holding up a white circle and the endangered birds flocking around her.
“All the different birds in that painting are endangered. I’ve read about every single one of them,” she elaborates. “When I grew up, there was this folklore that if you’re feeling scared you draw a white, protective circle around yourself. For me, I thought, how can I protect these birds? It’s this feeling that I wanted to show with the circle up in the sky and to create a space that they can be safe. It’s one person trying to make a difference.”
In a celebration of the life on the planet and nature, Bensly painted When She Wears Flowers in Her Hair. In the work are endangered butterflies and insects, as well as flowers in the model’s hair. “[The model and animals] become much more connected,” says the artist. “They get into a happy place.”
She adds, “This planet is amazing. We’re stewards of this planet. We’re connected and can’t live without it. We share the planet [with animals]; it’s an intrinsic part of what makes it wonderful and magical. It’s about re-creating that connection or strengthening that connection. It’s a call to action.”
4When She Wears Flowers in Her Hair, oil on canvas, 30 x 30"