The Galleries of Remembrance are closed for maintenance on Tuesday 18 June. The memorial remains open for visitors.
Stories of service and sacrifice may cause distress.
See this resource list for help.

Meet the Artist: Ben Pullin

Meet the Artist: Ben Pullin

My style of art, it's been influenced by different people in my past, or art that I've seen in the past, but

I wouldn't say that there's like anyone particular artist or sculptor that's massively influenced what I was doing

I just started doing it and the journey that I followed has brought me to where I am today.

So my name is Ben Pullin.

I'm a veteran from Rwanda and East Timor. I started serving late nineties,

now, I'm a veteran artist.

I think art's always been part of my life, on some level.

From a young childhood, living in Canberra, Canberra is very much an art centric kind of place.

Yeah, I guess it's always been part of, a major part of, sort of hobby, kind of thing, you know.

But I never really considered to try to make it into a career.

My style of art is reasonably sort of abstract, figurative, kind of style.

I do use a lot of recycled and found objects in my work.

Because I was sort of, a bit of a hobby welder,

I started to weld and create pieces just through objects that I'd found.

I utilise the shapes and forms to create the sort of style that I want to do.

During my military service, art wasn't really something that I continually, that I did.

But certainly later in my career.

And living on army bases, it became an outlet and a hobby.

I was actively starting to paint.

I spent a lot of time in, you know, within the Northern Territory.

In amazing places, in the Northern Territory and in the outbacks,

it's pretty inspiring to live in those spaces or to work in those spaces.

As harsh as they are, it's very, you know,

some amazing, amazing country that you get to see.

This particular piece,

I started three and a half – four years ago.

All the pieces that came together to what it is today,

They're all, pretty much came from scrap metal, or objects that I found.

I basically just set up with a pile of geometrical shapes.

I just use hammer and anvil to shape pieces.

And I basically just start welding.

With my style, I can collect rusty and old pieces of steel,

I don't have to think about having really nice, clean stuff, I can use a whole lot of recycled,

dirty, messy metal and stuff like that.

I quite often don't have a picture of

the completed, like I don't know exactly where everything is going to go or what I'm going to use.

In this particular piece, I started form the base and worked my way up.

It's a lot of comtemplation and a lot of, you know, looking at what I've got available.

A quarter of it will be done and I'll just look at it for a week, or leave it for a couple of weeks,

until I, sort of, have a bit of a moment and go 'ah yes, I know what I need there'.

This piece took, the first part of it, the first 80% of it,

maybe 70% of it, took about two months to do.

And the rest of it took another three years.

It sat for ages. And I will typically, at that stage,

leave the piece, inside, near my, you know, at the end of my bed on a desk or something like that

until I feel really comfortable with it or know what I'm doing with it, it sort of, like I won't feel it's finished.

The silver and the actual physical face sculpt,

that didn't happen until a couple of years later.

I work in my head, a lot.

Rather than doing a lot of sketching, or a lot of planning into the piece,

quite often I'll just sit and ponder what it is

and I'll run through different ideas in my head about what I want to achieve with it, I guess.

Or how a particular thing that I want to look.

I do generally have an overall, sort of, concept that I want.

Yeah, I can't describe it. It just happens.

Typically, my motivation also is, specifically, especially with veteran art,

is express some emotion or some history

of veterans, and other people I know, so,

that's the name of this piece: Watch Over Me.

The final motivation was through talking with other veterans that I know.

So this piece was dedicated to a particular,

like, a period of time and some, a guy in Afghanistan.

That sort of motivated me to finish off the piece.

That's how I sort of like, 'okay, I really want to create a memorial type piece', I guess.

So that's where the head sort of sculpt came in.

It's flawed, as well, it has many flaws in it, and it has many scars, which is,

and to me that's kind of like, showing, sort of,

a part of what, you know, happens in war, and stuff like that, so,

it's not a really tight, picture perfect sculpture of someones face, but

it's the idea there.

As far as what I'm trying to achieve in creating a piece of art,

it's both aesthetics and to get to generate emotion.

And I find that people and portraits, they resonate with veterans.

So it's kind of, it's nice to do, and cool to do a,

a big picture of a helicopter or a plane or something like that

but without the people in it, it's just an object, and there's no, it's like,

there's not as much story, so, like,

I try to get those both in together, I guess.

In my painting, I'm still trying to achieve, not a facsimile of real life,

but generate emotions and feeling

in what you're experiencing and what you're seeing.

So I'm trying to generate emotions from those faces and figures, but also I've got a quite a loose style,

it's not like, tiny details of every eyelash and piece.

I really want you to fill in the blanks.

I kind of think it like, you look at it and the details are not there, but from a distance,

you're filling in, and probably making the painting

actually more detailed and more interesting than it really is.

From a distance, the shade and the light

generates that shape and you kind of, your brain sort of fills in the rest.

Anyone who wants to do art: do it, and just,

doesn't matter if you mess it up or you just, if you're not trying to strive to be,

another artist. Like exactly the same as another artist.

Just continue to do what you do and hopefully someone will like it.

Updated