Benjamin Mills

Benjamin Mills is a London-based illustrator and GIF animator originally from rural Gloucestershire. His work is characterised by a rich sense of place and a hint of narrative. Ben likes to use subtle animated elements to introduce the dimension of time to his illustration.

“These pages are from sketchbooks I kept during my son’s early weeks and months- mostly drawings made in the half-dark bedroom while he slept. A little later I began keeping a page-a-day sketchbook diary which I filled with drawings of my family, our home, doodles and jotted notes and annotations as we navigated those strange months.

Our son was born in London in June 2020, during the latter stages of the first UK lockdown. I remember particularly the first few weeks, that hot sticky summer, trying to figure out how to be parents, dealing with health complications with next-to-no postnatal support, far from our families, somewhat adrift in our own little three-person boat. But this was also a wonderful time. Having so much time together as a new family was a gift.

I have long used sketchbooks as documentary; my way of recording, interpreting and remembering. The pages are peppered with notes about allergic reactions, hospital appointments I could not attend, and health visitor ‘visits’ conducted through FaceTime, as well as football scores and observations of the weather.

Looking back through my sketchbooks for this exhibition brought back vividly the sleepless nights ensconced in our bedroom, just the three of us, illuminated by the dull glow of a room thermometer. These are some of the most precious memories of my life. The act of committing to paper allows me to remember both the difficulties and the joys, and to recollect the things I had forgotten. Coincidentally, as I write this statement I am sitting in the same bedroom in the middle of the night beside another newborn baby, another sketchbook on the bedside table.”