Ask The Artist

Ask The Artist

Cambridge-based Ben Dobson explores texture, colour, perspective, light and shade using mineral, vegetable and animal matter prepared with skill for the microscope and camera.

A: You recently co-organised the SciArt Exhibition at the world-renowned Cavendish Laboratory, in addition to your personal and professional work, as well as exhibiting at art fairs. What is a typical day like for you?

BD: An art-focused day involves preparing a microscope slide. I may have new chemicals that I have read which show promise. I prepare them, heat to liquid on a slide and cool to recrystallise. I then dissolve in water or alcohol, carefully place on a slide and add a cover-slip. Then it’s placed under the microscope. I watch as a new crystalline landscape appears beneath my eyes. Mountains, towers, needles or feathers: they may be brightly coloured or it can all be a boring indistinct whiteout.

Then it’s a mad dash to find the most interesting compositions and start taking photographs by the thousands, always knowing this world may disappear in days or sometimes minutes – the crystals are fleeting.

To watch a BBC short film about Ben Dobson at work, click here.

1. Sparks and Stripes, 2018.