Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Claire Benn at the FoQ

Claire Benn, Watering Hole

One of the highlights for me on my recent trip to the Festival of Quilts in England was the opportunity to attend a lecture by Claire Benn, titled Lines + Rows, Rhythms + Repetition, Inspiration + Outcome. Benn used photos from her world travels to show us the sources of her inspiration.

Claire Benn, Adobe, Lintel and Ladder

I had not been familiar with Benn's work, though she is very well-known in the UK. She had a two-person exhibit (with Ingrid Press) at the Festival, titled Lines & Rows, Rhythm & Repetition, and her work is a revelation.

Claire Benn, In the Fullness of Time #4
Claire Benn, In the Fullness of Time #4

The show's statement read:
"Claire and Ingrid have always been captivated by the rhythm created by lines, rows and repetition. Whilst things might seem the same, each item, each repeated element, is different....
"Claire has always had a fascination with landscape – the more remote the better. Places such as Patagonia, the Arctic, Alaska and latterly, New Mexico are all empty yet whole. They evoke a sense of peace whilst being inspiring and energizing. Claire's second method of working is based on the joy of slow, repetitive hand stitch. Feeling the cloth in her hands, thinking of nothing other than 'needle in, needle out'. The act is a meditation and the results are simple and yet complex; beauty in repetition."

Claire Benn, In the Fullness of Time #4, (detail)

Claire Benn, Adobe, Lintel and Ladder, (detail)

The three detail shots above may give you some idea of the complexity of the surface Benn achieves. I heard snippets of Benn's talk to a small group in her gallery at one point, when she discussed how she slathers paint (dye?) onto raw linen and allows it to dry on a concrete floor. Any little bits that might adhere to the surface and dry in place are considered to be a bonus, and the whole process capitalizes on the serendipity of the uneven pooling and drying of paint.

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