Neil Haddon

Purblind (Opiate), 2008

high gloss enamel on aluminium

160 x 150cm

From the artist

The word 'purblind' describes the effect on the eyes when walking into a darkened room from a bright exterior. The momentary loss of vision fades as the eyes become accustomed to the difference in light. It is in this transitory space the work is situated, when the details of half lit shapes are literally glossed over or conversely, almost entirely erased. I think of John Glover, coming here, seeing what he saw and painting what he saw, sending those images back to England. Well received bucolic scenes, sublime maybe, exotic certainly, beautiful we would now say. On my travels around the north of Tasmania I see the production of fifty per cent of the world’s pharmaceutical opiates. I think of pain and dark times. I think of Tasmania’s current exotic status, as an analgesic island, exporting its poppy straw panacea.

Judges Comments

This painting is distinguished by its dark, moody, almost sinister interpretation of the Tasmanian landscape. While it effectively evokes the natural world of sea sky and clouds, it also metaphorically connects to the Gothic mythology that, in the past, characterised Tasmania in European eyes as a hostile, threatening place. The imagery itself, centred on the opium poppy, and the way in which areas of paint meld into one another, suggest hallucinogenic and ecstatic states of mind.

Judges: Peter Timms, Writer, Hobart; Adjunct Prof Ian North, Artist and Academic, Adelaide; & Kelly Gellatly, Curator, National Gallery of Victoria

Artist background

Born Epsom, Surrey, UK in 1967. Moved to Tasmania in 1996 after living in Barcelona, Spain for six years. Lives and works in Hobart. Exhibiting since 1990 in UK, Spain and Australia including 'Theatre of the World', MONA 2012, and other group shows at TMAG 2011, National Gallery of Victoria 2010, and Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne 2009. Finalist in Fleurieu 2008, Tidal Devonport Art Award 2006, and City of Hobart Art Prize 2005. Winner of Poimena Art Award 2005. Work held in collections of NGV, TMAG, City of Wyalla, Devonport Regional Gallery & Gold Coast Arts Cesntre.

Represented by Bett Gallery, Hobart & Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne