For young Indigenous Wollongong artist, Zachary Bennett-Brook, inspiration is found “in the oceans blue walls and sandy floors”. This is an artist who explored many different mediums and styles before discovering something uniquely his own. So unique in fact, that one random view of his art on instagram led to this interview investigating Saltwater Dreamtime.
Zachary has created his own style that beautifully represents his culture, passions and himself. Water has been everything, from a constant presence, his everyday playground growing up and a significant part of his cultural heritage as a Torres Strait Islander. Welcome to the ever evolving richness of Zachary Bennett-Brook’s art.
Who was the first big supporter of your creativity in life?
In terms of everyday creativity it would have to be my Mum Michelle. She has always been very supportive and encouraged me to be creative from a young age, providing me with books, paints and markers to sketch and experiment with. Growing up our fridge would always be filled with the latest paintings or drawing my sister Keziah or I would do.
Your art is clearly influenced strongly by your Torres Strait Islander culture. Has this been passed down through family/relatives or did you take initiative to continue the traditional style and techniques (on new formats)?
My Indigenous art is just something I took initiative with. Culture has always played an important role in my life, my artwork is just one way which I feel connected with my Indigenous heritage. My style is a combination of traditional Indigenous art with a sprinkle of my own unique style and flair.
Being Torres Strait Islander we are known as the Salt Water People and being a surfer my artworks are often associated with the ocean. It is often noticeable through the colours I use, designs I paint or objects which I paint on such as surfboards.
What inspired you to pursue your creativity as a business with Saltwater Dreamtime? And surfboards?
I was starting to gain a little bit of interest from a wide range of different audiences so I thought it would be cool if I were to push it a little further and see what could evolve. As a waterman I have always had objects such as surfboards and old surf fins laying around. I thought they would make a sweet unique canvas for me to paint on which really drew together my passion for the ocean in conjunction with my Indigenous culture.
When someone tells you something can’t be done, how do you respond?
I believe you should never let someone butcher your dreams, no matter how silly they may seem to someone else.
Personally when someone informs me that something can’t be done, I always take sometime to think about why they might have doubts. Then I like to try my best by going and doing better then they could have ever imagined.
Your work is very intricate and requires a lot of time and attention. How do you feel when you’re involved in the moment creating?
For me my creative zone consists of music, fresh air and a mind full of ideas and thoughts. When I create I will work for hours on a particular section trying to complete as much as possible until I’m happy or my body starts to hurt. My back and wrists are often the first things to start aching from the repetitive dotting action.
Some times the RSI comes on much faster and I can only paint for a limited amount of time. This makes me sound like an old man who has suffered from years of hard labor haha.
However when I’m in my creative zone all worries about what’s happening in my lift drift away and I’m often left with a clearer headspace and feel refreshed. It is an amazing feeling once you are finished to look at what you have created and see how it has turned out.
What’s the biggest goal you have for your creativity?
My biggest goal is to keep pushing myself to create and produce unique one of a kind artworks, whilst being able to share my passion with as many people as possible.
Where can people purchase your surfboards, fins, and other art works?
People can purchase my artwork through my online gallery, www.saltwaterdreamtime.com All my artworks are displayed on there with a link to my email where people can email me regarding different pieces.