Artist: Philippa Bentley

Artist Profile

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Philippa Bentley

Philippa Bentley is an Auckland artist whose work is usually inspired by nature, often with a twist.

Philippa exhibits regularly and has work held in both New Zealand and international collections. She has completed fine art prints, paintings, private commissions and design projects and has received awards in painting, printmaking and design.

A fascination with insects, that’s lasted from playing in her sprawling childhood garden and in the creek down at the bottom of the bush, inspired Philippa’s 'Insects and Memories' series.

This is a series of insect collections presented as museum boxes, and represents Philippa’s main body of work. The original insect images are individually screen printed and hand painted on to weatherboards or paper. The use of aged weatherboard started as a play on the 1950’s trend of a butterfly on a weatherboard house and is an integral part of the work.
Subtleties, personal memories, iconic references, heritage brands and humour are layered in to each artwork. For example, Philippa’s Cicada has a subtle  AM-FM tuner painted on it’s abdomen, as she remembers cupping cicadas in her hands as a child and pretending they were radios.

The Huhu Beetle is adorned with the cover of AWB Powell’s ‘Native Animals of New Zealand’- a reference book familiar to many from the school nature study table or a dusty shelf on the bach bookcase.

The Alpine Weta is patterned with the Speights logo. This amazing insect is one of the few creatures that can actually freeze in Winter, thaw out without the cells disintegrating and then crawl away in the Spring. A truly hardy, Southern type!

The vibrant orange of her Monarch Butterfly comes from the Edmonds baking powder heritage branding- “as iconic as monarchs on swan plants in Summer”.

“The Griffins Sampler box emerges every Summer as red as Pohutukawa flower or a ladybird’s back. Such a treat after lunch at the bach- two biscuits each, one fancy one plain; no going down to the bottom layer until we finish the top; columns of chocolate biscuits melted together into delicious sticky midsummer stacks. Later the box would house our own collections of rocks, shells and driftwood. Memories treasured here now as if archived in a museum collection.”

Just as butterflies are caught and preserved, archived in a museum specimen box, so are our experiences somehow captured and archived as our memories. We are all collector’s of days, of memories.

This ‘Insects and Memories’ series has been very well received and was reviewed by TJ MacNamara in the NZ Herald as "highly unusual and utterly delightful.”

“ I love the idea of retaining a sense of wonder in the world. My work celebrates our native fauna and often reflects on memory and identity, love and the collector. Wonder.”

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