Benjamin Lumb is a well-established and practicing artist and founder of Benjamin Lumb Art House (BLAH) – an art gallery working with emerging and established artists focusing on photography, installations, and paintings. Occupying out-of-the-ordinary spaces in the Lower Mainland that have included a storefront, an old warehouse, rotating pop-up locations, and currently two spaces on East and West Hastings.

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His work ‘Hyperion,’ completed in 2021, was recently installed on Granville Island in a high-traffic area and is sure to draw much attention and commentary with its grandiosity. The 11-ton sculpture is a nest of reclaimed rebar from a demolished Vancouver building and includes neon, a ship chain, and a concrete base. The installation is temporary and part of Tap & Barrel Group‘s ongoing commitment to supporting local artists.

IN HIS WORDS

“Looking back, I remember being in a conversation at a family dinner and exclaiming that I was not part of the general public. Everyone laughed and made fun of me.

“I think what I meant was that I was an entrepreneur and would carve my path through life, breaking all of the rules and paying no heed to what others think.

Growing up, I did garden clean-up, chopped firewood, and landscaping. 
I took on any project I got a ‘yes’ on. Whether I was qualified or not. Some projects worked out, and I made big money, but others were catastrophic failures wherein I lost money.

“I learned so much from these early years and wouldn’t change a thing if I had to do it over.

“Over the years, I hustled non-stop for jobs but refined my niche to custom stonework and landscape design.

“Starting in my late 20s and being single, I began to travel extensively throughout Europe and Asia.

“The exposure to the different cultures, people and art opened my eyes and inspired me to create something different.

“By the time I hit my early 30s, I was starting to become somewhat proficient in my practice, but I was pining for something more expressive to pursue, something more rich with people and conversation.

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“After a trip to London, I began obsessing over creating a propeller table. I scoured Vancouver for a beautiful old vintage propeller and ended up procuring the old prop of the Hollyburn Ferry (pre-Lions Gate Bridge).

“I remember thinking to myself during the process of sourcing and creation, “Oh, my God, I LOVE this so much. I NEED to do this.” I made three other epic tables over two years and then rented a small gallery space at the foot of Lonsdale.

“The practice of showing my work was humbling and enjoyable, but people rightly so viewed my work as furniture. In my mind, it was art. Instead of trying to change the viewer’s mindset, I began to create sculptural work.

“I live every day in a perpetual state of unsatisfaction even though I have an art practice, gallery practice, private underground art club, and stonework practice. That being said, I know this is what I was meant to do and will continue the journey to try to reach my full potential – leaving no stone unturned.

“In 2017, I was invited to join the Space Gallery, a collective of artists including William Higginson, Olga Rybeko and other local Vancouver artists. Located in Yaletown, next door to Bluewater Cafe, it was a lively gallery and a fantastic spot to develop my practice.

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“In particular, this was where I created the installation ‘Alcazar’ in the gallery’s foyer. It is an ongoing installation consisting of an assemblage of objects from my past and journey through life, depicted through a series of objects (currently 500+) flying out of a giant hotel safe exploding through a steel plate.

“These suspended objects form what is essentially a self-portrait of my practice moving through the art world. To date, three limited-edition photographs have emerged from this work. Undoubtedly, it is the most important early work of my art career.

“In 2019, after creating a large sculpture entitled ‘Hercules,’ that stood 14 feet tall and could not be accommodated at the Space Gallery, I began to reach out to developers and property owners to find a host to showcase this latest work.

Grosvenor generously opened their doors to me in their new West Vancouver development. After three months of showing Hercules, I reached out to the asset managers and explained my vision of Benjamin Lumb Art House. I immediately began to curate shows and search for artists whom I admired.

“Over the course of three and a half years in this space, I curated eight group shows and three solo shows. In the summer of 2022, I moved the gallery to an old warehouse in North Burnaby, then to Horseshoe Bay in a Westbank Development in the summer of 2023.

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“BLAH is currently located in two locations downtown on East and West Hastings. BLAH’s continued interest is to work with emerging and mid-career artists, focusing on photography, installation, and paintings. “The ‘Boiler Room’ installation is actually a private art club located in the basement of a circa 1932 building on West Hastings. It is a private, guest list-only club featuring a series of rotating artwork available for purchase, DJs, and a cocktail bar.

“I created this space as a portal to underground New York and Berlin clubs. The space is a sophisticated, a beautiful but dark haven for people in the know. To date, one limited edition photograph has emerged from this work.

“I know the people around me are going to push me to the next level. I love people. Without my friends, none of this would be possible. I am blessed to have so much support and opportunities around me. In the future, the key will be staying true to my instincts and learning how to say ‘NO’ more.

“I have learned from this journey that I must credit the women in my life, especially my partner Kate. She inspired me to take my practice to the next level, and without her, I’m not sure if I’d be where I am now. My three daughters, Isla, Clara and Ella, are a constant inspiration and blast of love, which help me see the world and its people from a different perspective.

“My current business model is not for the faint of heart. Invest every penny of profit back into the practice. EVERY PENNY. I view money as energy to be used. I have no interest in stacking dollars.

“Moving forward into 2024, there are a few things I am excited about – connecting more collectors with my artists and my art, realizing a satellite pop-up in New York or London, and participating in International Art Fairs.”

Images for this story provided by Benjamin Lumb. 

Author Profile

Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak, Luxury Lifestyle Observer
Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, PORTFOLIOY.YVR Business & Entrepreneurs Magazine, and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at [email protected].
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