In Conversation with Bryony Benge-Abbott
Bryony Benge-Abbott was joined by Ian Wright and Ellie Mackay to discuss her residency at Orleans House Gallery on 15 September 2021. This session was originally hosted on Zoom.
Bryony Benge-Abbott is a British-Trinidadian artist, curator and producer working at intersection of art and science, with a particular focus on nature connection. Her practice spans street art to oil paintings, textile design to drawing, playing with pattern, scale and composition, and moving between symbolism, abstraction and expressionism in the search for immersive encounters with nature. She also brings a strong community engagement and participatory focus to her public realm based work. Alongside her artist practice, Bryony has 15 years experience of curating and producing social history and science exhibitions, most recently leading the inaugural public engagement strategy for exhibitions at the UK’s largest lab, The Francis Crick Institute. She has a BA Hons in Fine Art Painting from Bath Spa University and an MA in Museology with a Curatorial Fellowship at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.
Ellie Mackay is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and science communicator specialising in environmental storytelling, and using disruptive, positive messaging to change the narrative and encourage renewed thinking and action. Her work has explored everything from sustainable palm oil production to plastics, littering and the circular economy. She is particularly interested in our connection to natural systems and both the mental health and environmental health benefits of living and working more holistically with nature.
Ian is a sculptor, landscape architect and environmentalist. He attended the Royal College of Art where he claims to have ‘failed with distinction’ before moving to Ireland in 1974, where his longstanding interest in forestry led to the purchasing of 70 acres of land in Cork in 1997. There, he developed an environmentally and economically sustainable forest and established the Irish Natural Forestry Foundation, now The Green Economy Foundation, to demonstrate best practice. The Foundation successfully challenged the decision of the Irish forest service (through the European Union) to only grant aid for the planting of alien conifers. Ian’s campaigning continues to influence Irish forestry policy and its relationship with forestry companies and private landowners and to date, Ian estimates he has planted 2 million trees in Ireland.
Today Ian is based in the Caribbean where he is one of the co-founders of Corbin’s Local, a wildlife park on Tobago that has introduced a breed and release programme for the island’s endangered animals and is soon to be the site of a new Biodiversity Awareness Centre.