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Neil Haddon

Neil Haddon is a visual artist, originally from the UK, who has lived in Tasmania since 1996. Prior to this he lived in Barcelona, Spain from 1990 to 1996.

Neil’s paintings have been included in exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria, MONA and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and are held in private and public collections internationally and in major public collections around Australia.

Recent exhibitions include: Stranded, MOP Gallery, Sydney (2009); Broken, dianne tanzer gallery + projects, Melbourne (2009);The Good Listener, Criterion Gallery, Hobart (2010); Counter Works, Rex Irwin Gallery, Sydney (2010); and Neil Haddon, dianne tanzer gallery + projects, Melbourne (2011) and was part of the exhibitions Theatre of the World, MONA (2012) and Near and Far, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart (2011); Wormholes, Bett Galley, Hobart (2015).

Neil has been the recipient of many prizes and awards including the Hadley’s Art Prize 2018, the Whyalla Art Prize 2009, the Glover Prize 2008, and the Tidal Art Prize 2007. His paintings have been shortlisted for the Arthur Guy Memorial Prize Bendigo Art Gallery and Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Neil is the Head of Painting at the School of Creative Arts and Media, University of Tasmania.

Neil Haddon – When the Smoke Clears

These paintings take as their inspiration a line from James Kelly’s account of his 1815 circumnavigation of Tasmania in a whaling boat. In this account, Kelly writes about the moment that he and his crewmates enter Macquarie Harbour. He describes navigating through thick smoke to enter into the calm waters of the natural harbour. Because they can hear shouting, Kelly assumes that local aboriginal people are hunting kangaroo. He suggests that he and his crewmates are lucky that their boat is concealed by the clouds of smoke, thus avoiding confrontation. Later that day, Kelly gave the name Macquarie to the harbour. My paintings show the dark tannin waters of the harbour and the clearing smoke. They speculatively ask what we might see when the clouds clear.

the shore, the race, the other place

” For some time now, I have been drawn to thinking about my life as a migrant to Tasmania. It’s odd; how long it can take to realise that the subtle undercurrent of difference that has pervaded my life here could be used more purposefully as a tool for critical thinking.

The physical displacement of migration is often accompanied by a mental one when the thoughts, feelings and associations attached to one place are removed to another, new place. The artist and theorist Mieke Bal describes this dual physical and mental displacement as a heterochronic experience of time or, a disruption in the regular flow of time. My interpretation of this is that, as a migrant, I am perpetually aware of two (or more) time zones; the time of the old place and the time of the new place.

How can the time of the migrant be made in a painting?

The paintings in this exhibition are made using a form of collage; the cutting of a pictorial element from a source and pasting it into a new composition, often with other collaged elements. The paintings present a seemingly haphazard array of pictorial references derived from multiple historic periods, all of which have a biographical connection to me.

There is an image of a placard holding bible salesman and racegoers enjoying a boozy lunch at the Epsom Derby (the ‘race’ of the exhibition title). I was born and raised in Epsom on the outskirts of South West London. There is a recumbent Eve in the Garden of Eden and the imaginary future ruins of London. These images have been copied from Gustave Doré’s illustrations in the books London: A Pilgrimage (1872) and Paradise Lost (1898). I have used them as pictures of the old place; a place that is both geographically and temporally distant to me now.

The paintings also include elements derived from Paul Gauguín’s Mata Mua (1892), a partially fictionalised account of Gaugín’s new home in Tahiti. For me, the painting is an important marker of my own migratory journey having first seen it when I lived in Spain, then again, decades later when temporarily living in New York and, more recently on a trip to Madrid. These fragments find themselves amongst strangely symmetrical trees taken from a painting by John Glover (1832). Glover’s tree has been copied and flipped to produce an exotic new species that looks as European as it does Antipodean.

This assortment of subjects is complimented by different painting techniques including digital printing on spray-painted grounds, refined hand-painted detail and loosely expressive gesture. The collision of images and techniques creates a turbulent, non-linear temporal dimension that is nonetheless held together in a field of highly saturated, unworldly colour.

The ‘shore’ of the exhibition title refers to a rocky shore, painted as if standing with one’s back to the ocean looking inland to a challenging topography. This is an apt location to consider the experience of migration. It is intertidal; neither fully land nor fully ocean, characterised by diversity and adaptability. It is two places at once and can be difficult terrain to traverse.”  – Neil Haddon 2019