Artereal Gallery is excited to present Within the Nook, an exhibition of intricate, diaphonous and finely spun new embroideries by celebrated Australian artist Liam Benson. These exquisite and intimately sized embroideries are a continuation of a recent body of large-scale embroidered artworks made for You Already Know, a solo exhibition presented by Glasshouse Regional Gallery in Port Macquarie in early 2022. This current online exhibition also comes at the same time as the artist celebrates a major milestone within his artistic career, with a retrospective exhibition showcasing over two decades of Benson’s works having recently opened at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
To view and purchase artworks from this series
scroll to the end of this online exhibition page.
Within the Nook is a collection of embroideries that embody the intimate and familiar delight of returning to favourite walking sites and tracks and being welcomed by micro natural phenomena such as dew drops on spider webs, the silhouette of gum trees against a setting sun and the layers within ecosystems that talk to one another through symbiotic relationships.
For the artist, these works are a purely sensory response to the act of bushwalking. Immersed within the landscape and the moment, Benson’s daily bush walks and his keen observation for detail have allowed the artist to build an archive of memories of daily, seasonal and reactionary traits within natural environments.
The repetitive routine of walking in the bush connects the cycles within nature to the artist’s own personal habits and routines. A repetitiveness which is then echoed in the making of these works – which slowly and almost magically come to life, revealing themselves, stitch by stitch, sequined layer upon sequined layer. This slow act of revelation echoes Benson’s own experiences as a Queer artist and the process of finding his own identity. A process by which the formation of connections slowly accumulated before forming a sense of belonging and the foundation of an identity.
Originally known and acclaimed for a contemporary practice rooted in performance, photography and video, Benson has over the last decade increasingly turned to textiles and embroidery. The artist elaborates: “My use of sequins and bead embroidery is a performative way of embodying ritualistic, methodical ways of incorporating queer historical and cultural process into materials and actions and to celebrate this personal reflection of our human condition.
Unpicking and transmuting embroideries, recycling, repurposing, and ‘re-writing’ existing craft methods… The way Liam Benson unpicks and restitches an embroidery echoes the way in which nature takes over a decaying building. Like plants reclaiming a space, new sprouts coming up through cracks…
Decades ago, as a teenager coming to terms with his own identity, Benson would walk in the bush. The artist reflects back on this time and explains: “In the bush you are never alone. Nature, bush tracks and the environments I inhabited before connecting with Queer community – they were places and spaces that kept me company.
Everything I experienced at that time, the thoughts I processed, the moments of realisation, awakening and learning bonded with the elements of those natural spaces and everything that lived around and alongside me. We are all part of the universe and natural way of things. Our human experiences, as diverse as they are, have a place in the reciprocity and flow of nature.
In this sense, these latest embroideries are about being ‘Queer in nature’ – and finding personal connections between our life experiences and our immediate environment. They muse on the way that our personal experiences can be communal, but also solitary, in a way that benefits and nurtures our sense of self and identity in a meditative way. They are about the act of sitting with your thoughts, without seeking out a destination or ending.”
Liam Benson has been prolifically exhibiting and performing since 2002. He has performed in various significant exhibitions including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2014), Sydney Contemporary Art Fair (2015; 2013), Cutlog New York Art Fair (2013), and as part of the Head On Photo Festival (2012; 2011). Benson also regularly works in collaboration with Naomi Oliver as the performance based duo, The Motel Sisters. Currently Liam’s survey show Liam Benson: Virtue Without Stain curated by Richard Perram OAM is exhibiting at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery.
Liam Benson has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Arts Category of the Champions of the West Initiative (2014), Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Award (2013), the Hawkesbury Art Prize (2013), the Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award (2011), and the Contemporary Award category of the Fishers Ghost Art Award (2011).
Benson is also a previous artist in residence at Parramatta Artist Studios. In 2014, Benson was awarded a grant for his project Adorned – a community art project collaborating with female participants investigating the significance of their individual cultural legacy and identity. Benson was also invited to perform at the Museum of Contemporary Art, to celebrate the institution’s 2 millionth visitor.
In 2016, Benson was a finalist in the Glenfiddich Artist in Residency Award and the Blake Prize. In 2017 Liam was invited to participate in Young & Free at Bega Regional Art Gallery, he was also commissioned to create new work for Unflinching Gaze: photo media & the male figure at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery. In 2019, Benson was commissioned to complete the prestigious Bella Room commission at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. More recently, Benson presented You Already Know, a solo exhibition presented by Glasshouse Regional Gallery in Port Macquarie.
Benson’s works are held in significant public and private collections including those of the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Artbank, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the University of Western Sydney, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery and the Gold Coast City Gallery.
A major survey exhibition of Liam Benson’s work, titled Virtue Without Stain is currently on show at Bathurst Regional Gallery.
View all of Liam Benson’s artworks below.
Artereal Gallery can assist with coordinating framing.
All prices are in Australian dollars and inclusive of GST. Freight costs not included. Prices are correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change without notice.
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