Maurice Bennett 1950-2016
‘Toastman’, and friend of The Learning Connexion, Maurice Bennett, sadly passed away on Monday.
Maurice was known to all and sundry as ‘The Toastman’, because his art of choice was to create portraits and billboards from toasted bread of various shades.
Maurice made toast portraits of New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, rugby player Jonah Lomu, and of course, the Mona Lisa. These portraits are made up of hundreds of slices of bread, all toasted to different tones, to create skin highlights and shadows. Maurice also created pieces of art that were inspired by tapa cloth, Maori carvings and Pacifica patterns and commissions for the New Zealand portrait gallery.
His toast work featured on numerous TV shows, most notably the international shows ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ and ‘Amazing Stories’ in Japan. Within New Zealand he appeared on ‘Campbell Live’ and ‘The Holmes Show’.
Born in Paeroa in 1950, Maurice Bennett worked for decades in the supermarket industry. His family were supermarket owners and, despite some early artistic promise and training, he followed them into the supermarket business.
It was not until the 1980’s that Maurice found his path to creativity and put his passion to work, starting his toast art practice with what he called ‘a commission that no one asked for’, of the mayor of Wellington, Mark Blumsky.
Watch this video profile to find out more about this amazing man and how he turned his passion for art, and the unusual medium of toast, into a full-time, sustainable art career.