Ben Russell on The Cactus House, his love of greenery and sculpting organic forms of cacti

Cacti and succulents are definitely having a moment. Whether it’s something to do with the current Hockney retrospective, or we’re just in love with LA, all things botanical are increasingly spilling into the art world. For sculptor Ben Russell, he’s decided to create The Cactus House, an exhibition at Mayfair’s Hignell Gallery of contemporary sculpture inspired by the “bold organic forms of cacti”.

Coinciding with this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, the event juxtaposes Ben’s beautifully carved stone art pieces with a verdant display of plants created by botanical designers, Conservatory Archives. We spoke to Ben about The Cactus House and where he gets his inspiration.

Why the fascination with cacti?

“I love organic form and just find them really interesting. They are sculptures in themselves, like little explosions of life in a pot! I have a bit of a habit of imagining everyday things made in stone so got a bit over excited when that idea came into my head.”

Succulents and cacti definitely seem to be en vogue. Why do you think that is?

“Nature in general seems to be having a moment! Many of us don’t get to spend nearly enough time in green surroundings, so perhaps we are trying to bring the outside world into our homes to reclaim a bit of that space. I guess the low maintenance nature of cacti and succulents also has its appeal and they do look stunning with their many colours, forms, shapes and sizes.”

Ben Russell, Cactus House, Alabaster, 2017. Photograph courtesy of Tanya Dolver

Ben Russell, Cactus House, Alabaster, 2017. Photograph courtesy of Tanya Dolver

Can people buy any of these sculptures?

“Yes, the sculptures will be for sale throughout the exhibition at Hignell Gallery (11 May – 3 July) and will then be available by commission for about six months after that.”

You work from your studio in Dorset. Is it important where you work? What’s the scene like there?

“I am actually moving back to Dorset in a couple of weeks…

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