I had the pleasure of meeting Ben in true Lifelines style of serendipity on a working trip in Kunnanurra in 2016, which really doesn’t ‘feel’ as long ago as it sounds!
Not knowing when I’d ever get the chance to visit this beautiful part of our country again, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the treasures of Kunnunarra, the Waringarri Aboriginal Arts centre, an Aboriginal-owned art centre which supports Indigenous artists of the east Kimberley region.
Browsing through the gallery I found myself drawn to some activity happening outside in a sheltered area … and this is where I came across Ben and his incredible art in the making.
It must be said, being a designer I find indigenous art fascinating – the patterns and designs have a hypnotic effect on their own .. but once you start to understanding how to translate them and gain a little insight into the stories behind them – its next level all together.
Even so, seeing Ben’s tryangular style, it was something I had never come across and I found myself curious to find out a little more.
LIFELINES of BEN WARD
This really is one of my favourite things in the world … how a simple hello blossoms and two completely different worlds collide and it’s just two people sharing a little time, finding out about each other.
Before I know it I am drawing Ben’s Lifelines portrait, yes it is nerve wrecking, vulnerable – artist to artist … what will he think, say? I find myself reminding myself of why I do this. Remember, it is meant to be fun. Remember, it doesn’t matter if it isn’t perfect. Remember to tell him it’s ok if he doesn’t like it.
Did he like it? Well one never really knows … but I find myself laughing with him as we chat and share stories. I notice him struggling a little reaching back into his bag that hangs on the back of his wheelchair as we chat, I don’t pay too much attention but he seems to be keen to get something out. It wrapped in a plastic bag.
Photos, he has reached into his bag and brought out a collection of old photos. These are my children … they’re all grown up now – Im a grandad now… This is me when I was young, I think its with a mango – or is that a watermelon … oh and this one …
Is that an eagle?! I ask stunned by the sight of three boys holding a massive eagle with its wing span outstreched from the first boy to the last.