From this weekend Orange Regional Gallery presents a striking and playful new exhibition in the recently refurbished Gregson and Maria Edwards Gallery.
The redesign of this space as part of the extension project offers a counterpoint to the two larger downstairs exhibition spaces, lending itself perfectly to small-scale installations such as Hello, good to meet you- an extraordinary installation by multidisciplinary artist Liam Benson.
Challenging the 'look-but-don't-touch' mode found in most exhibitions, Benson's work offers a refreshing and inclusive alternative in which visitors, adults and children alike, are encouraged to physically and playfully interact with the artwork.
Originally commissioned in 2019 by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) for its Jackson Bella Room, a space for people living with disability or access requirements to connect with contemporary art through sensory experience, the work celebrates the compassionate and intimate relationship between horses and humans.
Benson developed the work in collaboration with Riding for the Disabled Association NSW's Tall Timbers Centre in Box Hill, where he volunteered for more than a year. The presentation of Hello, good to meet you at Orange Regional Gallery has also provided an opportunity to extend on Benson's initial work through a new collaboration with the Orange branch of Riding for the Disabled for its first regional showing.
As the MCA described it, 'the title, Hello, good to meet you, refers to the language of horses, bringing to mind the deep and gentle throaty sound horses make when they recognise a friend.
The commission builds on Benson's interest in horses from an early age, which have featured throughout his photographic and textile practice as powerful symbols of strength, fortitude, loyalty and protection.
For these reasons, Benson has identified horses as uniquely capable of empowering and fostering new and warm connections between Bella Program participants.'
... the work celebrates the compassionate and intimate relationship between horses and humans.Bradley Hammond
This is also true for many of us who have experienced periods of deep disconnection over the last few years due to COVID and other factors. The installation includes a large, colourful textile 'mane', a video featuring horses, colourful wearable fringes and space to dance, stretch, play and relax.
The exhibition opens today, Saturday May 14, with a morning tea celebration with the artist at 10.30am. It will be officially opened by MCA Audience Engagement Director Gill Nicol. The exhibition will run until July 24.