BENEDICT Juniper believes it would have been nearly impossible to not strive to emulate his famous father, Darlington artist Robert Juniper.
Despite early training as a cellist and jeweller before touring with Perth punk band The Scientists in the 1970s, the younger Juniper was destined to return to his roots, where he taught himself the art of blacksmithing, which led to sculpting and fine art painting.
“Being largely self-taught was afforded by the huge advantage (if you will) of literally growing up immersed in art and surrounded by artists and intellectuals,” 57-year-old Juniper said.
“It is all we (his sister Bec is also an artist) have ever known and we were very lucky to have such an outstanding role model. We learnt techniques as if by osmosis, as well as humility, candour, humour, love, and most importantly, respect.
“Art as a career is pure folly. One would not sensibly choose it, it more accurately chooses you.”
Juniper’s sculptures use metals, clay and glass, while his painting technique is “unsurprisingly similar to that of my late father” and involves the use of impasto media with oils, acrylics and metals in the form of gold, silver and copper leaf; one imperial ounce of gold can make an acre of gold leaf.
The Wembley artist, upon suggestion from a friend, entered the 2018 Mandorla Art Award and is one of 40 finalists whose work will be exhibited at Turner Galleries, Northbridge from June 2 to 30 after the official opening on June 1.
The Mandorla Art Award employs a thematic Christian inspiration that changes with each exhibition.
These inspirations are defined by quotations from the Bible and all participating artists are requested to interpret these in their own way.
This year’s theme responded to “And then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…” (Rev 21:1-2).
Juniper’s entry God is Pleased is an abstract interpretation of this text and he said it was rich in symbolism, with hidden details in the picture of a horse and rider.
“It has thick, multiple layers of coloured gesso, oils and acrylic paint, enamels (paint ,and powdered glass pigments) as well as gold and variegated copper leaf,” he said.
“This is the first painting prize (other than high school) that I have ever been shortlisted in and being a finalist is an absolute honour.”
Juniper said he would also be exhibiting works this year at his wife’s alma mater, Presbyterian Ladies’ College, and Hale School, where his father once taught.
What: Mandorla Art Award 2018
Where: Turner Galleries, Northbridge
When: June 2 to 30