Liam Benson's Wealth of Unconditional Love

Sydney-based artist Liam Benson sets out to explore the shared values that allow diverse genders, cultures, and abilities to find common ground.

The artist’s latest project is a series of embroidered artworks that celebrates creative collaboration and mutual respect. ‘I Have a Wealth Of Unconditional Love, and It’s Yours If You Want It’ is currently showing at Artereal Gallery in Sydney.

Elle Murrell

Artist-facilitator Liam Benson is currently exhibiting ‘I Have a Wealth Of Unconditional Love, and It’s Yours If You Want It’. Pictured is the artwork ‘You and Me’, which was created in collaboration through community workshops. Photo – courtesy of Artereal Gallery.

Participatory community embroidery facilitated by Liam, ‘Untitled (flag)’ Photo – Zan Wimberley.

‘Same’ from the series ‘Thoughts and ‘Prayers’. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

‘Untitled (flag)’ and ‘You and Me’ installed at Artereal Gallery. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

The Sydney-based artist describes his work with terms like ‘holistic’, ‘exchange’, and ‘celebration’. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

‘The privilege I experience in relation to my gender, colonialism and whitewashing is something I want to maintain a critical focus on,’ says Liam. ‘However, it’s in my nature to keep a balance, so this body of work is a rest point where I can stop thinking for a moment, connect with others and simply express how I feel,’ he says. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

Other pieces created by Liam feature poignant and evocative text. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

Installation details. Artwork pictured ‘I Think About You All The Time’. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

Liam’s exhibition runs until October 29th – don’t miss it! Photo – Zan Wimberley.

The memorial and celebratory piece ‘Thoughts and Prayers’. Some participants verbally acknowledged ‘a sunflower for Grandpa’, and ‘a rose for mum’ while stitching. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

Liam simply set out to talk to people about the shared values that allow diverse genders, cultures, abilities to find common ground. Photo – Zan Wimberley.

Elle Murrell
19th of October 2017

In early 2000, Liam Benson arrived at Western Sydney University with an old Christmas tree box full of ceramics, drawings and textiles. He left a few years later holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts, as ‘a proud Western Sydney Artist with a performative multi-disciplinary practice, steeped in collaboration’.

Since then, the artist-facilitator has continued to weave ideas of identity throughout his work, from performance to visual art and fine craft. This exploration continues with ‘I Have a Wealth Of Unconditional Love, and It’s Yours If You Want It’, his most recent showcase.

Liam put out an open invitation for people of diverse genders, cultures and abilities to meet at neutral spaces, such as schools, community centres and regional galleries, where they could talk, eat, share and make embroidery art together.

The artworks they created currently adorn the walls of Artereal Gallery in Sydney. There’s: ‘You And Me’, a map of Australia on transparent organza, identifying and acknowledging the regions of different indigenous Aboriginal language groups; ‘Thoughts and Prayers’, a garland of embroidered flowers is a memorial for public emotion, private mourning, but also serves to celebrate love and the living; and ‘Untitled (flag)’ is a joyful take of our nation’s flag, emblasoned with bejewelled stars and other iconography.

In his show, Liam also displays his ‘Infinitus Creationis’ crest, inspired by his Celtic heritage but also the unicorn’s symbolism for LGBTQI peoples. Nearvy, his ‘Australia From Space At Night’ is installed among a constellation of evocative phrases such as ‘brother/ lover’, ‘both’, ‘grace’, ‘I know’, ‘refuge’, and ‘Alhamdulillah’ – the Arabic for ‘Praise be to God’, which he decided to feature instead of ‘thank you’.

‘Being a minority – in my case being queer, forces you to face and process how you are different from others – for some this process spans a lifetime. I’m so grateful I have this opportunity for self-reflection, even though at times it’s traumatic,’ says the 37-year-old. ‘It’s given me the clarity to recognise what I have in common with others and the fortitude to support people facing similar experiences.’

Looking ahead, Liam is keen to continue to revel in colour and texture, and explore new materials. He is also committed to continuing compassionate, collaborative art projects, and to embracing authorship over his cultural legacy ­– ‘because culture is a shared and evolving experience’ he wisely counsels.

‘I Have a Wealth Of Unconditional Love, and It’s Yours If You Want It’ by Liam Benson.
October 4th to 29th
Artereal Gallery
 747 Darling Street, Rozelle, Sydney

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