Stevens says: “It is very unusual for us as a gallery to discover an artist via Instagram and for this discovery to lead to a long-term and fully realised relationship without ever meeting in person, but with Ben being in Australia, meeting was not on the cards.”
Stevens adds: “[Crawford’s] work is so immediately engaging; who are these people, where are they from, what are they doing there? Discovering that Ben had moved from Ireland to Queensland, and was creating these timeless and placeless narrative-style paintings, I wondered what his experience of emigrating had been. As with all the artists in this exhibition [place – displace], he said that with moving to a new homeland, there is always a slight sense of being the outsider that hovers around the edges of one’s experience. For me, these paintings feel placed in history with Ben as the visitor, some of these figures are him or his children, others are people from other lands and other times.
“He is such a delight to work with, totally professional and committed, and despite Zoom being our only face-to-face contact, I feel I know him.”
Ten works by Crawford will feature in place – displace alongside pieces by Charlotte Evans, a British-born artist who first moved to the US in 2011 and now lives in Toronto, Canada; and Russian-born artist Veronica Smirnoff who moved to the UK as a teenager. The exhibition is available to view by appointment in Chichester from October 5 and Tuesday to Saturday from 8-11 October. From 8-13 November, it will open at Cromwell Place, London.
Crawford has a busy few months ahead. He will also be working on paintings for a 2023 solo show to be held at Boom Gallery, Australia, a painting for December’s London Art Fair (again with Candida Stevens), and works for a number of charity auctions.
About the champion
After working in new media, then luxury goods and fine art for more than two decades, curating collections and developing and directing small businesses, Candida Stevens set up independently as Candida Stevens Gallery in 2013. Her namesake gallery has since built an impressive reputation for its ambitious curatorial themes and for attracting some of the finest emerging and established artists working in Britain today.