Quilt by Sue Benner
Tomorrow I plan to go up to Melbourne to visit the Quilt Convention and Expo at the Exhibition Buildings Carlton. In today's Age there's an article about Sue Benner, a scientist who uses molecular inspired designs in her quilting. Great idea. Look here for more about Sue Benner.
Art and science squared ANDREW STEPHENS
April 30, 2010
WHEN she trained as a molecular biologist and later as a medical illustrator, Sue Benner had no idea that one day she would become a self-supporting artist on the strength of it. With a love of art and especially textiles, Benner, from Dallas, Texas, is visiting Melbourne for the Australasian Quilt Convention and Expo to give a tutorial and show her work. Known to some on the art-quilting circuit as ''the sewing scientist'', Benner produces a lot of imagery on her fabrics that relates to the natural world.
Cellular structures are a prominent feature. Her master's thesis in medical illustration included a series of quilts rich with the imagery of the microscopic cellular and tissue structure of the human testes. ''They let me do it because - well, they were pretty used to me by then,'' says Benner. ''I was always a sewer and when I was a little kid I wanted to be an artist. But I loved math and science, so I pursued it and settled on molecular biology.''
She didn't, however, care for scientific work: the equipment, the killing of test animals or being in a laboratory. She intended to get a job in medical illustration but someone told her she could sell her quilts because they were so good, so she started doing commissions and soon found herself a self-employed artist with big demand for her beautiful work.
''Now I see myself as an artist who has a great appreciation of how the world works,'' she says. ''I use that as my base. I started out doing cellular-type illustrations in textiles, using the patterning as direct inspiration, now I have a more abstract notion of structure and order. In my mind I am thinking about how biological forms are structured, yet I am working with textiles and the quilt.''
The work she is displaying at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens deals with ice-age geology and is called Walking Through Time.
- The Australasian Quilt Convention & Expo opens today and runs until May 2; www.aqc.com.au/Melbourne2010/