Liam Benson : Thoughts and Prayers

14 February to 2 May 2020

In recognition of significant recent events across Australia, and particularly in the South Coast of NSW, this important artwork by artist Liam Benson has been displayed at the Bega Commemorative Civic Centre as a reflective acknowledgment and tribute to the many stories of community loss, trauma, strength and memory which the Bega Valley Shire has experienced

Community participatory embroidery, Thoughts and Prayers, (2015-2018) is an expansive assemblage of embroidered flowers created by many and diverse hands in collaboration with artist Liam Benson. Within artist-led workshops, participants designed and embroidered beaded and sequined flowers as a tribute to loved ones. Each flower has been added to a pool of shared acknowledgment in the form of a floating wreath-like constellation sewn by the artist onto a veil of navy and black tulle. Surrounding the bouquet are several concentric rings made from the left-over sequins and beads which from ripples that radiate from the flowers.

Community participatory embroidery, Thoughts and Prayers is a memorial that is both an expression of public emotion and private mourning, but also a shared celebration of love and the living. Created as a response to mass floral tributes, each embroidery workshop became a space of exchange, with participants sharing sewing techniques and stories as they completed each petal, stamen and rosette in memory and meditation for someone of personal significance. Workshop participants also completed details by previous makers who had run out of time, creating anonymous connections through the resolution of the shared designs and expressions of love.

Participants from Cammeraygal High School, Chatswood, Parramatta Artists Studios, Rockhampton River Festival (Rockhampton Art Gallery, Western Sydney University and Bega Valley Regional Gallery were involved in the project. The following people participated at the Bega Valley Regional Gallery: 

Emmy Sparrow, Nancy Brunton, Anette, Milly, Lauren Body, Paige, Clara Wells, Bernie McKinnon, Kiah Campbell, Indigoe Flavell, Petie Tatnell, Alex Eeles, Jessica, Eeles, Mariana Maldani, Marg Scouts, Kathleen McCann and Pete Davidson.