Bathurst Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) is delighted to present the first survey on the work of award winning, interdisciplinary artist, LIAM BENSON. This multi-faceted exhibition will offer a spectrum of colour, texture, stills and moving image for the summer holiday season.
LIAM BENSON: Virtue Without Stain celebrates Benson’s contemporary and cultural practice of the last 18 years. Led by Curator Richard Perram OAM, the survey presents Liam’s photographic, new media, performance and embroidery practice. Importantly, Virtue Without Stain includes new collaborative works made with local communities in Bathurst.
Liam Benson is one of Australia’s most original and creative artists. Born, raised, and currently living in Western Sydney, his work holds an unflinching mirror up to who we are as Australians, and in Benson’s case what it is to be a Queer white male of Anglo-Saxon heritage.
Liam Benson and exhibition curator Richard Perram both proudly identify as being part of the Queer or LGBTQIA+ community. Selected works in this survey deal with issues surrounding gender and reflect lived experiences.
With keen political energy and insight, Benson disrupts ideas of masculinity, shifts perspectives on historical complexities and satirises cultural identity with a queer bent. Self-performance and body adornment are at the heart of Liam’s practice and central to that work is the way his video, craft techniques and photography overlap.
Like the American photographer Cindy Sherman, Liam uses himself as the subject of his work. As a means of both empowerment and humour, he creates unsettling images of great beauty that subtly deal with issues of masculinity, homophobia, gender and our colonial history.
Alongside Benson’s acclaimed photographic and video work, Liam has developed a respected textile and embroidery practice, with works often made through participatory community collaborations and workshops. Art and design are integral to the artist.
Using stitching as a connection, Benson involves others in the creation of these works, his take on self-portraiture has expanded to include the hand of the collective. Clothing and textiles have not just become a primary medium of creative expression for the artist, but an important connection to community.
Over many hours and long conversations, Benson shares and interacts with contemporary Australia. The most recent works in the exhibition were made in collaboration with Bathurst community at The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum.
Reflecting the myriad gemstones and crystals at the museum, Benson worked with locals including men and migrant women’s groups and youth who identify as LGBTQIA+. They created a series of glittering new hand stitched pieces that celebrate people’s life lessons, stories and experiences.
Benson’s well-known performance piece White Lady will also appear in Bathurst following his performance at Tarana Markets in 2022. Dressed in a handmade ivory Victorian gown, the artist inhabits the façade of a ‘white lady’ and roves throughout the crowd stopping for periods to talk and embroider with visitors one-on-one.
The public is invited to discuss their opinions surrounding the notion of whiteness and contribute to a live sequin and thread embroidery session with the artist, on the dress, while others look on.
Liam Benson is an artist exploring the intersection of gender, culture and queerness in a national and regional context. With empathy and integrity, Benson’s “queer eye” changes the primary view for the audience.
Through transformation, performances, photography, video, textiles and collaboration, the skill of Benson’s art making process is on show and his visual language stands outside the usual fanfare of an inner-city aesthetic.
In what looks to be another landmark exhibition for Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, LIAM BENSON: Virtue Without Stain is framing life and art through a queer lens. There is much to contemplate here and so very much to celebrate.
LIAM BENSON: Virtue Without Stain
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, 70 – 78 Keppel Street, Bathurst
Exhibition continues to 15 January 2023
For more information, visit: www.bathurstart.com.au for details.
Image: LIAM BENSON, Coat of Arms, 2009-2010 C type print, 61 x 91.5 cm. Collection of the artist