2019 Jackson Bella Room Commission: Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

Liam Benson is the 2019 Jackson Bella Room Commission artist for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, and the eighth artist since it was established in 1993 by MCA patrons the late Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM, and the Jackson family, in memory of their late daughter and sister Belinda. The annual commission is intended to engage audiences with contemporary art through sensory experience. Past artists include Kathy Temin, Lara Merrett, Kate Beynon and David Capra. Benson is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice incorporates performance, photography, video and textiles. hello, good to meet you (2019), which takes the form of a large, colourful soft sculpture, came out of a multi-year collaboration with Riding for the Disabled Association NSW’s Tall Timbers Centre in Box Hill. The title of the work, which resembles a ‘mane’, suggests the secret language of horses when they recognise a friend. The commission builds on Benson’s interest from an early age in horses, which have featured throughout his photographic and textile practice as powerful symbols of strength, fortitude, loyalty and protection. Visitors are also invited to don a series of wearable sculptures – fringed with tassels, suggesting manes or forelocks – that evoke traditional clothing associated with horse riding with the purpose of inspiring creative action through movement. Visitors can create their own choreographies or respond to one another through dance, finding new ways to communicate through their bodies and encouraging agility, balance, coordination and strength. The work is accompanied by a video of the work with the riding school, featuring music composed by George Tillianakis.

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