Polly was awarded the Decorative Surfaces Fellowship from The Worshipful Company of Painter-Stainers in 2018, after graduating from City & Guilds of London Art School. The fellowship celebrated historical craft and introdcued Polly to a range of techniques, including japanning, oil and water gilding, inlay, penwork, chinoiserie, stoneblocking, and trompe l’oeil.
"The fellowship provided me with a great opportunity to be in control of my learning, and after much research I focused on crafts that I felt combined my art practice with my curiosity for bespoke decorative interiors. As my practice has always put making and practical skills first, I also wanted to learn important skills - important because they are endangered or rarely seen - in order to bring them to the forefront of contemporary art."
Pastiglia Plant Panel
Punchwork & Sgraffito Panel
Trompe L'oeil Shelf I
Pastiglia Plant Panel
Under Rian Kanduth and Hugi Hicyilmaz, Polly experimented with various water and oil gilding techniques, such as pastiglia, punchwork, sgraffito, verre eglomise and Japanning. Through the Japanning, she became interested in the different traditional uses of shellac, and learnt pen-work and inlay.
Alongside the Decorative Painter Lauren Minchington Polly discovered various painterly glaze techniques including ragging, dragging, stippling, marbling, stoneblocking, woodgrain and chinoiserie, her favourite's; stoneblocking, woodgrain and chinoiserie, she took forward with trompe l'oeil and wallpaper.
The High Tatras Valleys
Incorporating the newly learnt decorative skills into her contemporary practice, Bennett created a body of work to conclude her fellowship.
The work was in response to a week she spent in Slovakia trekking brown bears. It explored the fairytale-esque environment encountered while walking through the woodlands below the High Tatras, in Slovakia; a mixture of dense forest, mossy carpets, colourful red-banded bracket fungi, and sap seeping brown bear scratching posts.
The installation ‘Below The Tatras’ consists of decorated dried and wooden fungi superimposed on wallpaper created from a single tessellating woodblock.
“Amateur scientific enquiry, craft, collecting, and a child-like fascination with the natural world drive my creativity, and rely on the tiny moments retained from broader remembered experiences, that once combined, create a completely new world.”