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ABOUT ME

I am a contemporary artist working from my studio on the beautiful Gower Peninsula in Wales. My focus is on the natural world and I take inspiration from the coast and countryside surrounding my studio. I paint exclusively with specialist Japanese watercolours and incorporate 24k gold leaf into many of my works.

EXPERIENCE

I grew up in Gower, Wales and have painted from a young age, inspired by the Nature I found along this beautiful stretch of coastline. I was introduced to watercolours by my grandmother Talia Benz, who was a renowned airbrush artist in the States. Her father Otto Benz was an American Impressionist who studied at the New York School of Art under William Merrit Chase and painted beautiful scenes around Massachusetts and all along the East Coast of America. I won the award for Art at both my primary and secondary schools, and while studying for my A-Levels I took part in the TV programme Watercolour Challenge and was a daily winner (I have the gilded presentation watercolour box as a beautiful souvenir).

I went on to study for a BA (Hons) in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Reading, followed by a three year PG Dip (Cons) in Painting Restoration at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Throughout every university holidays I undertook an internship at the National Museum of Wales Painting Conservation studio. It was here that I was taught the skill of gilding by the head conservator Kate Lowry. On graduating from the Courtauld, I returned to Wales and immediately began working as the Painting Restorer at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea. I was responsible for the conservation and preservation of the gallery collection, which included paintings, prints, miniatures, sculpture and china, as well as overseeing the preservation of works of art across the County's buildings. I also worked on the Gallery's many touring exhibitions which saw a wide variety of work spanning many centuries on display.

CAREER

I became a full time painter in 2018. My experience in art conservation informs my artistic practice through an extensive knowledge of artist's materials and techniques, especially with the use of hand applied 24K gold leaf. I use watercolours in a non-traditional way, exclusively painting in Japanese watercolours and applying the paint in one continuous layer to maximise the impact of the palette. 

In 2020 I was invited to create 4 original paintings for the acclaimed Art on a Postcard Summer Auction, alongside well known artists such as Julien Opie and Jake and Dinos Chapman. My painting for this auction 'Berry Special' was featured in The Times newspaper. I was selected for this auction as an artist ‘whose work stands out as challenging conventions and breaking new ground’. As an emerging artist my work has been exhibited throughout the South East and is in private collections in the UK.

 

I was the tutor of Botanical Watercolour painting at the Henley-on-Thames School of Art up until the pandemic. When living in Henley-on-Thames I exhibited regularly as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks.

 

In 2021 I was approached by Fortnum & Mason to create gold leaf greetings cards based on 6 of my paintings. I have since designed exclusive Easter and Christmas cards for Fortnums and my limited edition prints are now also stocked in their iconic London store as well as on their website. I regularly give painting and gilding demonstrations at the Piccadilly store.

In addition to Fortnum & Mason I have also worked with Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche - Paris, Huntington Art Gallery - California, Cambridge Contemporary Art - Cambridge, Mission Gallery - Swansea and many more.

In 2024 I was selected for the Royal Society of British Artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London.

CONTACT ME

I regularly accept commissions. If you would like to contact me to discuss and find out about availability please email emmabenzart@outlook.com

You can also read my blog here

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