Ready for a fun new Dumpster Diver house tour? Meet Ellen Benson…

It’s tour time again!

Over the past 8 months,  Unexpected Philadelphia has taken you to 8 inspiring, art-filled homes belonging to the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers – that warm and wacky band of artists and collectors who exhibit,  socialize and produce witty,  up-cycled art together.

Today we’re heading to the home and studio of Ellen Benson,  sister of Divers’ co-founder Neil Benson,  whose house we’ve already visited.

16_02_05 01 Ellen Benson Wall DC_2211(Ellen in her living room with what she modestly calls “The Wall”.
About a third of the work is hers; the rest hails from around the globe.)


Ellen has always collected art,  fiber and handmade crafts on her travels.

16_02_05 02 Benson Sun Porch DC_2489(Ellen’s art-filled sun porch showcases fabric she collected in Mexico,
Guatemala, Turkey, Israel and Uzbekistan.)

But,  at age 55,  she made three radical life changes:  She retired from her banking career,  she married for the first time – and she began a whole new life as a collage and found-object artist.

16_02_05 03 Ellen Benson Divas CM_8829        16_02_05 04 Ellen Benson Divas CM_8779(Ellen’s Diva figures incorporate a dazzling array of found objects – from buttons,
broken jewelry,  and game pieces,  to kitchen utensils,  sewing tools,  and printed tins.)

Her work has appeared in magazines,  a book,  and in dozens of exhibits,  from Oregon and Chicago to Brooklyn and Philadelphia’s International Airport,  where she was awarded a solo show.

16_02_05 05 Ellen Benson Mask CM_9858       16_02_05 06 Benson Collage CM_9656

(Whether constructing a found-object mask on a baseball glove,  or a painted and embellished collage,  Ellen is particularly drawn to human and animal faces.)


So click this link to our Unexpected Philadelphia website to tour Ellen’s predictably “unexpected” home in Philadelphia’s Mount Airy section….

 16_02_05 07 Benson Dining CM_9963(The dining room features a unique chandelier made by fellow Dumpster
Diver Ellen Sall,  using objects gathered by both Ellens.)

…and to visit her sun-filled studio in Manayunk….

16_02_05 08 Benson Divas CM_8783(Ellen is over halfway to her goal of constructing 1,000 Diva figures.
She envisions them as “a family,  a friendship circle,  a tribe.”)

And,  when you arrive at our website,  be sure to click on any thumbnail photo to see a much larger version.  (You can scroll through the larger photos using the arrows at the bottom of the screen.)  Each large photo also comes with a scrollable caption that shows on non-mobile devices like laptops or desktop computers.


(Ellen’s memory vessels celebrate everything from travel,  to toys,  to motherhood.)


Interested in keeping up with our blog?  Just click on the black “Follow” button at right,  near the top of the blog,  and you’ll receive an email whenever we post an entry.  (And, no – we never accept or send ads.)

16_02_05 11 Ellen Benson DC_2082(The artist in her studio….)


Kate & Dave

3 thoughts on “Ready for a fun new Dumpster Diver house tour? Meet Ellen Benson…

Comments are closed.