Ben Orkin is a Cape Town-based artist who is currently completing his studies at Michaelis School of Fine Art. This fresh 20-year-old designs and makes clothing, bags, mosaics, bead-works and photography as well as producing a line of ceramics under his artist’s name ‘NEBNIKRO’.
You have an eclectic (and impressive!) mixture of crafts under your belt – where did you acquire your skills?
Thank you. I’m not completely sure. I am very passionate about being creative and am constantly creating things with my hands. I think I have an obsessive personality. I tend to think a lot about things I want to make then I’ll learn a new technique and do it until I am sick of it. So I guess that explains why I do so many different things because over time I have obsessed over so many different techniques and materials that I’ve learned about lots of different techniques and materials. I used to be into cooking a lot (I had a full on foodblog); I can bead, make ceramics, photography, clothes making, mosaic-ing, drawing etc. I tend to teach myself these techniques and if I can’t teach myself I will get basic assistance from someone who knows what they are doing. From there I will teach myself. I’m currently into ceramics. My mother is a ceramicist and has taught me so much over the years, which I’m really grateful for.
Can you give us some insight into your creative process?
I think I’m a bit all over the show. I’ve never really stuck to one mode of making. I like to think ahead and have a clear vision of what the final product may look like (even though the result is never what I imagined – which is good). I also apply this to my everyday life and am constantly working towards goals that I would like to achieve in the future. I find inspiration from the world and things that happen to me. When I’m making my ceramics I look a lot at architectural shapes and how they relate to the human body. When I’m making work for my fine arts degree, I will start with an issue in my life that I want to speak about and then relate it to whatever material or process we are tasked to use.
In terms of your clothing, bags and bead-work – do you do everything yourself, from start to finish?
Yes. I do everything myself from start to finish. I couldn’t do it any other way. I love the process of learning and making.
How do you find the balance and time to be so prolific?
I really love working and doing what I do so I guess I just spend most of my time making things and working hard. I’m at University every day of the week and then I spend my weekends working on personal projects like my ceramics. Obviously it’s very important not to spend all of your time working, so I occasionally do things to relax – I just don’t have a lot of time to do that.
You had a sold out show held at AKJP Collective in April and more recently, your ceramics were available at the Turbine Art Fair and through Guild Africa concept store. What’s next in terms of shows or public platforms?
At this moment, I’m not completely sure. I guess for now I’m just focussing on my studies. I would love to be able to make work that can be exhibited in the gallery space as fine art, so I guess I’m working towards that. My ceramic vessels have been exhibited in gallery spaces, but I would like to be making work that is more conceptually driven.