Benjamin Shine is a British multi-disciplinary artist best known for his amazing work with tulle… a material that is most often associated with ballet tutus. His pioneering work in tulle centers on the ideas of energy, impermanence, and the relationship between spiritual and superficial forces.
Fashion is a familiar area for Shine and an arena that goes back to when he was a student at Central Saint Martins in London. On his daily walks, he would pass by a fabric storefront that was always filled floor-to-ceiling with tulle. He recalls thinking, “One day, I have to do something with that.”
In 2013, Shine’s career took off when his work attracted the attention of Riccardo Tisci. The well-known designer mixed three pieces into sportswear for Givenchy. Furthermore, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the London Design Museum each purchased work for their collections.
Shine also designed a 5-piece installation for Bergdorf Goodman called “Seeing Through the Material.” Tulle flows and comes together to form beautiful female portraits. About the displays Shine said, “I’m thrilled to be exhibiting this series at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, a collection of my hand-made tulle flows that represent a world beyond physical nature – one of energy, thoughts and emotions. I’m increasingly interested in how we cultivate and maintain a sense of the true self in an age of materialism and mass distraction, and through this exhibition at Bergdorf Goodman, I hope to inspire a moment of self-reflection.”
Shine developed the tulle technique after noticing an old piece of crumpled up tulle on his studio’s floor. The tones that were created by the various fold in the fabric made him question whether or not those pleats could be manipulated to form a recognizable image. Through a lot of trial and error, Shine practiced pressing and pleating the length of the material into a shape with an iron. Honing his skills took a couple of years; now it is almost second nature for Shine to “paint” with the iron.
Shine’s wedding “gift” to his future wife… an aisle!
Image courtesy of: Best Self Media
About why tulle is so unique, Shine says, “Some of these pieces could be produced in glass or acrylic, as the transparency factor is key, but the problem with those materials is that they give themselves away. The glint and glossy surface describe a solidity that ruins any illusion of smoke, energy streams, or sense of apparition. The sculptural way I use the material offers a surreal and subtle visual effect that no other medium can achieve.”
One reason Shine loves tulle is because the hexagonal holes that resemble sweet honeycombs and ripped fishnets. As a member of a family in the garment manufacturing industry and an employee of a fashion company, Shine uses fashion in an untraditional way… he designs the people INTO the clothes and not clothes INTO the people. This… we love!