Part three in our ongoing ‘Post-Graffiti Pacific’ roles out today, with a comprehensive chat with artist Benjamin Work. Benjamin is of mixed Scottish and Tongan ancestry, and intially struggled to find a sense of belonging and gravitated towards the pop-cultural influences emanating from Los Angeles in the 1990s, such as skate, fashion, gang and graffiti culture. Today, Benjamin’s journey to learn more about his Tongan ancestry has led him to discover images of antique Tongan weapons finely carved with often overlooked symbols of warriors and royalty. These key figures in motion, form the majority of Benjamin’s works with strength and power and occasionally, the Lupe, a pacific bird of peace, feature in his works. He continues to explore the power of kula (red) and uli (black) and their connections to titles, Christian beliefs and youth gangs in Tongan thinking and practice.
Damo: What does it mean to you to be part of ‘Post-Graffiti Pacific’?
Benjamin: It’s a statement from a group of creatives that marks a place in time (tā) and space (vā). We are situated in a unique and rich part of the globe that has been subject to many misconceptions throughout the ages, so we are one part of that voice telling our stories from this region of the world. Just like our forefathers who were explorers venturing into uncharted waters, also with us, as we explore what it looks like to be Post graffiti in the Pacific Region.