Bill Henson

ONEIROI is a photographic installation by one of Australia’s leading artists, Bill Henson that will be housed permanently at the Hellenic Museum. The photographs that make up ONEIROI incorporate priceless treasures from our award winning Benaki collection, Gods, Myths & Mortals. The exhibition represents over 8,000 years of Greek history and culture and comprises pieces of exquisite beauty and immense cultural significance. Henson’s unique style uses composition, chiaroscuro and the human form to create powerful, narrative driven works of art.

“It's interesting to feel as though one is seeing something from an equal distance and closeness, and that one can sense both a tender, intimate, breathing proximity and, simultaneously, an anonymous, monumental and unknowable distance in the same work at the same time. As though a work manages to contain all manner of opposing forces or contradictions. This is a quality that I respond to in all good art.” – Bill Henson. 

Henson selected several treasures from the Benaki collection in order to create a series of works exploring what it means to be split between two cultures, and the impact this has on the way we view ourselves. The collection showcases a powerful and evocative narrative suggesting an everlastingness of beauty and form.

The collaboration between Henson and the Benaki collection explores the intrinsic cultural connectivity that an individual has with history, and evokes important dialogue between the past and the present. The series inspires discussion about what it means to be custodians of an ancient past and it captures the way in which our history, culture and art shape the way in which we view ourselves today. Similar to the treasures selected by Bill Henson, the photographs that form ONEIROI are unique without editions, reflecting the nature of the Benaki treasures which they incorporate.

“Ambiguity is always at the centre of an interesting experience because this causes us to question, to wonder why a thing holds our attention. In the best experiences for me I'm compelled to look and continue to watch an object - it becomes compelling - yet the exact nature of the component parts which are causing this reaction, remain undefined or elusive and hard to pin down,” – Bill Henson.

The Hellenic Museum collaborated with the Benaki Museum and artist Bill Henson to develop this unique series. The ONEIROI commission was made possible with the support of Robert Buckingham.

Read more about Bill Henson’s influences and methods in the Hellenic Museum blog post Capturing Bill Henson.