Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro busier than ever

COVID-19 saw everything that Blackheath artists Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro were working cancelled or postponed in 2020.

So they set about applying for grants, with some measure of success.

The visual artists have been awarded a $25,000 Create NSW grant for Many Hands Make Light Work, an exhibition to show at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in October.

The project documents the spirit of co-operation as manifested through human flight, and involves research in Niigata in Japan.

The couple had planned a three-month residency in Japan from April last year. Whether this will be possible this year remains uncertain. They had hoped to attend a popular annual kite-flying festival in Shirone, which features enormous kites.

"What attracts us to that is the community support required to fly the kites," Healy said.

If they can't be there in person, the plan is to hire videographers to film it.

The Japanese footage will be juxtaposed with footage shot at the Bathurst Soaring Club of gliders in action, focusing on how that community comes together to achieve flight.

Also part of the Cultural Centre show will be a number of video pieces and sculptural works inspired by a "plane boneyard" in the suburbs of Bangkok.

They visited for three weeks in December 2019 to see the tropical jungle crawling over discarded parts of old planes.

They weren't to know then that the new year would bring a shutdown of the aviation industry.

"We were looking at defunct planes and a month later everything was totally shut down. It was quite eerie and so sad," Cordeiro said.

They also visited old Cambodian temples, at the same time anxiously checking on the bushfires back home.

"We were looking at ancient ruins and we'd check our phones to see if we had a ruin," Cordeiro joked.

The artists were also successful in securing $2.2 million from the Developers' Contribution Fund for Parramatta Square, in conjunction with Urban Art Projects, to create a public sculpture in Parramatta.

A massive fabricated 'Flying Pieman' bus will be built, to stand on its rear end, like a giant trophy, with stories painted on the outside.

"The bus acts as a canvas to reflect on other historical elements of Parramatta," Healy said.

The bus is a nod to the Parramatta Eels holding team meetings in a bus when fans burnt down their stadium in the 80s.

While 2020 was a year of upheaval, the couple are upbeat.

"A lot of things are uncertain but things are falling into place," Cordeiro said. "You can only put it out there."


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