Saturday, December 4, 2010

Breathe Deeply
(Exhibition - ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions)

Claire Benn (England)

Preamble
This blogspot contains posts of artworks that have featured in my curated international exhibition - ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions. For your convenience I have listed these posts below.
ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions (Marie-Therese Wisniowski - Curator's Talk)
Sequestration of CO2 (Engaging New Visions) M-T. Wisniowski
Sacred Planet I (Engaging New Visions) J. Dunnewold
Under Pressure (Engaging New Visions) L.A. Beehler
lo Rising II & Giza (Engaging New Visions) R. Benson
Etruscan Relic (Engaging New Vision) J. Raffer Beck
Catch The Light 1 & 2 (Engaging New Visions) J. Schulze
Emerge (Engaging New Visions) J. Truckenbrod
Die Gedanken Sind Frei 3 & 4 (Engaging New Visions) C. Helmer
Black Birds I & II (Engaging New Visions) C. Holmes
Autumn Visions I & II (Engaging New Visions) J. Petruskeviciene
Razing/Raising Walls, Warsaw (Engaging New Visions) N. Starszakowna
Quite Alone Oasis… (Engaging New Visions) J. Urbiene
Nothing Is The Same I & II (Engaging New Visions) E. van Baarle
Discharge Thundercloud (Engaging New Visions) K. Kagajo
Shroud Of Ancient Echoes I & II (Engaging New Visions) S. Fell-McLean
Cane Toad Narrative (Engaging New Visions) H. Lancaster
Visionary and Eclipse (Engaging New Vision) J. Ryder
Untitled ArtWorks (Engaging New Vision) Tjariya (Nungalka) Stanley and Tjunkaya Tapaya
Treescape (Engaging New Vision) A. Trevillian


Introduction
After a two-week interlude with workshop outputs, we shall return to the European contribution to ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions.

The catalog of the exhibition is far more detailed in terms of opening addresses and artist’s biographies, curriculum vitae and statements etc. and moreover, is a holistic record of the exhibition itself.
Committed to Cloth


Synopsis of Artwork: Breathe Deeply
I am a busy person. Always have been and probably always will be.  Work, kids, the house, the garden, the kitchen, the grandchildren. But I’m classified as a human being, not a human doing. What happened to the ‘being’ bit?

In 2001 I was approaching burn out in my professional working life. Deciding to let go and actually letting go of the work I’d been doing for the past 10 years (and the money I was earning) was difficult, as much of my identity was tied up in my job. Going part-time didn’t help – it felt like standing on one leg - unbalancing. I sought guidance through a coach/therapist and eventually severed myself from my old working life. I drifted for a while, kept occupied by a re-building project on the house. But I continued to do inner work, and eventually felt confident enough to believe it was okay to focus my future life around textiles.

I’ve been working with cloth since 1995. Time at the print bench is time when I lose myself, and yet find myself. Time when I can ‘be’ – even though I’m doing. A sense of inner peace and inner space is now hugely important to me and I find it when I’m working in the studio.  Creating abstract work that is simple - yet complex - and which communicates a sense of space has been the goal for my work in the last few years. For me, space is a vast horizon, a deep pool. A place of stillness, silence and peace.  It is nothing and everything.

So how to convey that? My external source of inspiration is the wilderness; landscapes with nothing – but everything – in them. Places where the horizon is vast and the sky huge. Places such as Patagonia, or the southern desert of Morocco. The middle of the ocean the long view down the garden into the rural landscape beyond. The sky. Places that are almost monochromatic, but never dull. Places that make you realise just how insignificant you are… and just how awesome nature is. Places you can breathe in.

Eyes closed and eyes open, meditation are inner sources of inspiration.  Activities that enable me to take a sip of stillness and silence - de-clutter my mind and help me see more clearly. Yoga helps with the search to balance body, mind and spirit and helps me to breathe.

Breathe Deeply is both an expression of what I seek, and a reminder to try and live what I seek. A big space,  a deep pool. Turbulence is present but behind it is the reminder to breathe and use the turbulence to carry me through. Dry-brushing the background to ‘Deeply’ was a meditative activity - nineteen passes with dye paints across the entire length of cloth to create the deep pool. You have to work slow and you have to flow. Repeated screen-printing of the single word ‘breathe’ was a meditative activity. Hand printing the turbulence was a meditative activity. My hope is that viewers will respond to the request: breathe deeply and find a space of stillness.

Does Breathe Deeply engage with new visions? In one sense, no - my vision has been around for several years. But in another sense, yes, as every time I approach a piece of cloth, I engage with a new vision.


Techniques
Dry brushing, screen printing, hand painting, scraping employing fibre-reactive MX dye paints and water-based screen inks on silk broadcloth, backed with fusible interfacing.
Size: 100 cm (width) x 290 cm (length).

(a) Breathe Deeply (Claire Benn) centre artwork.
Orange Regional Art Gallery, NSW, Australia.
Photograph courtesy of Marie-Therese Wisniowski.

(b) Breathe Deeply (Claire Benn) artwork second from left.
Orange Regional Art Gallery, NSW, Australia.
Photograph courtesy of Alan Sisley, Director, Orange Regional Art Gallery.

(c) Breathe Deeply (Claire Benn) centre artwork.
Redcliffe City Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia.
Photograph courtesy of Karen Tyler, Director. Photography by Al Sim.

(d) Breathe Deeply (Claire Benn) - full view.

(e) Breathe Deeply (Claire Benn) - detailed view.

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