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Claire Benn

Previously shown in

Her quiet materials 2021

Warp weft stitch thread 2021

Fibre: structure and surface 2022

Earth materials 2023

Unearthed 2023

The title of this exhibition – ‘Unearthed’ – suits me well as I use natural earth pigments in my work, bound to linen, antique hemp or canvas using soya milk.  


The works draw inspiration from the land, but this time I went beneath the surface to go back in time and dig more deeply into the concept of ‘unearthed’.  I buried antique French hemp in the soil over the winter, digging it up in April to discover it had been delicately tinted and eaten away – these became my ‘fragments’.  


These fragments - along with other pigment-painted pieces of cloth - spoke to me of ancient ground. This led me to archaeology and the grave goods or findings that might be discovered in the earth, and I commissioned Sylvia Quinnell to make me small silver and bronze artefacts to stitch to the cloth.


I also have a stash of antique cloth.  Digging into it, I excavated an old French grain sack, nicely holed with some lines of murky blue warp thread.  I took this with me to a three-week retreat in north-west Scotland; the colour of the sack became the bracken, the blue lines became the rivers, the holes became the lochs and through intensive stitch, I created the shore. ‘The Land, the Lochs, the Rivers and the Shore’ is therefore firmly rooted in my love of landscape and the far north-west.

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