Robert James Benn, although born on the island of Bahrain under the protective flag of Great Britain, became a Canadian citizen at 17 years of age. He has lived the majority of his life in Alberta and the last twelve years in Medicine Hat. Rob has drawn since he could hold a pencil and much to the chagrin of his teachers, used his aptitude to decorate many flat surfaces, resulting in more than a few detentions and desk washing exercises.
Rob graduated from the University of Calgary Fine Arts Department in 1980 with a four year B.F.A. in Printmaking. Married to Laurie and with daughter Melanie about to arrive, Rob dived into work with Calgary Parks and Recreation as the Supervisor of the Wildflower Arts Centre and later the North Mount Pleasant Arts Centre. Shortly after Melanie, two sons Michael and James appeared. Then in November 1988 Rob started as a Field Services Consultant with Alberta Culture and Multiculturalism and the family moved to Medicine Hat.
In 1998, after 18 years of service to the public, Rob left the Government to begin the Positive Culture Company. The creation of the Positive Culture Company allowed Rob to combine his community development skills with his artistic abilities to offer the private and non-profit sectors assistance with communications: written, oral and graphic. His strong desire to communicate through art has given new meaning to his work. Rob uses his ability to draw to enhance communication and understanding when working with groups, prompting comments from clients like, “I can see this concept much clearer now – it’s so much easier to understand with a picture!”
Rob was brought up with the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains and has since used them as subjects for many of his works, but, as a result of moving to Medicine Hat and traveling around Alberta with his job, he also came to embrace the beauty of the prairies.
As a hiker, cross country skier and amateur photographer, Rob has no problem finding subjects that inspire his work. He prefers working in two dimensions on paper and canvas but also delights in less static art forms like gardening, snow sculpting and pumpkin carving. Rob’s work reflects his enduring love of nature and patrons often remark on his wonderful use of light that brings an intensity of life to his pieces.