HDR Member Blair Coffey has been awarded the $15,000 Rio Tinto Martin Hanson Memorial Art Award. Now in its 41st year, the awards are one of Queensland’s most prestigious regional art events, attracting more than 300 entries from established, emerging and amateur artists from across the country. Blair Coffey's work Conquest was selected for the prize, a monumental 1.35 x 1.65 meter screen print on foil insulatio. The awards were judged by Jason Smith, Director of Geelong Gallery and a former Curator of Australian Art at GOMA who described Conquest as:
“In your face... At first I resisted this piece – it was just too much, but I kept coming back to it again and again, and it made me think about where we’re going in the 21st century, as societies, cultures and people. I love what it says about the way we interact with each other and every other species on earth.”
Blair's practice reflects a fascination with medical images that render the human body transparent. After having worked with X-ray imagery in 2014, his attention turned to visual representations of genetic data. In September of 2015 Blair approached the Garvan Institute of Medical Research about the possibility of sequencing his own genome. After appropriate ethical approvals were undertaken, a sample of DNA extracted from his blood was sent to Ramaciotti Centre for Genomics, and in December of 2015 his entire genome was delivered via a cloud based DNA platform.
Visual representations of the information contained within these files have formed the basis of a series of artworks, a selection of which were recently on exhibition at QCA's Webb Gallery in Blair's solo show Disembodied. These artworks examine the metaphoric life of DNA, and attempt to negotiate the disembodiment that occurs when viewing the body as data.