Ben Cook, BA (Hons) Fine Art
Ben Cook, Artist in Residence at the Eden Project
Ben Cook's artistic journey started in a city by the sea and led him to the surfing waters of Cornwall.
Studying fine art at the University of Sunderland gave Ben a self-confidence and self-reliance that would help him make his way in the world of art.
Ben was a student in Sunderland in the 1980s before moving to Manchester where he was part of an artists' collective. He has since moved with his family to Cornwall and recently completed an artist's residency at the Eden Project.
Ben said: "It's bizarre how things turn out. During my time at Sunderland, a friend and I really got into skateboarding which was enjoying a bit of a revival. This led to an interest in surfing and I am now in a great place to indulge my passion, although I now hear that Sunderland is gaining a reputation for surfing and water sports these days.
"I really enjoyed my time at Sunderland where we were really given the opportunity to develop as artists and work on our own. The lecturers were always there for help and support but we were taught to be independent which is a skill you need if you want to follow an artistic path.
"Although I trained as a painter I now concentrate on installation artworks. The Eden Project residency was all to do with the environmental impact of surfing and how we could create more sustainable surf equipment through using non-toxic plant-based materials. It was a labour of love really.
"To be a successful artist you have to be entrepreneurial which is not something people generally associate with being an artist. Studying at Sunderland gave me the self-confidence to go and get something if I wanted it.
"Self-motivation is crucial for an artist and when I moved to Manchester I used those skills to make a living out of being creative. I went on to do a teaching certificate and an MA in Fine Art which has led to lecturing and research work - all self motivated!"
Ben Cook, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Artist and Artist in Residence at the Eden Project