Contemporary artist Christian Thompson has been announced as the 2017 H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellow.
The H.C. Coombs Creative Arts Fellowship was instigated in 1964 by Dr H.C. Coombs, ANU Pro-Chancellor at the time, to encourage creative work in the arts in Australia. With the first fellowship taking place in 1965, the University has just celebrated the 50 years of the award.
The fellowship allows the recipient to engage in a period of uninterrupted creative work in residence at the ANU, to conduct research, develop new ideas, and contribute to the fostering of the creative arts within the University.
Working between Australia and London, Dr Christian Thompson’s work explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity and history. In 2010 Thompson was the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted into the University of Oxford where he completed a PhD in in Fine Art. He was recently announced as the recipient of the inaugural $80,000 Mordant Family VR Commission presented by the Australian Centre of the Moving Image (ACMI) and the City of Melbourne for the creation of new virtual reality work.
Thompson’s multidisciplinary practice spans photography, video, sculpture, performance and sound to explore themes of identity, sexuality, gender, race and memory. He is well known for his portraits in which he inhabits a range of personas by using handcrafted costumes and carefully orchestrated poses and backdrops.
Thompson will take up the fellowship in September 2017, joining renowned previous recipients including Fiona Hall, Don Burrows, George Dreyfus, Narritjin Maymuru, Arthur Boyd, Sydney Nolan and Gordon Bennett.
During his stay Thompson aims to carry out research in the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) archive and ANU resources while developing new sound and installation work. He will mentor undergraduate and postgraduate students across the disciplines of visual arts, music, video and language, participate in seminars and workshops, and present work in progress at the end of the fellowship period.
Christian Thompson visiting 50-50: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at the Australian National University curated by David Hansen & Gavin Leuzzi, ANU School of Art & Design Gallery, May 2017