Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro

Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro both completed a Master of Fine Arts.

UNSW Art & Design graduates, Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, are internationally renowned practitioners known for their thought-provoking installations that explore the way modern human beings live, including the mistakes we make and the things we take for granted. In particular, the creative duo is interested in the relationship between domestic decisions regarding living and the global impact that can be evidenced in the disparity between individuals and nations. 

The seriousness of Healy and Cordeiro’s messages are made accessible to audiences through their delivery. By playfully transforming everyday objects into extraordinary, and often large-scale sculptures and installations, they broach concerns of transience, mobility, and the effects of material consumption on the environment in ways that audiences can extract meaning. 

Healy and Cordeiro were commissioned for the Landmarks exhibition by Anthony Bond for the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, for which they created an installation entitledThe Ugly Stick Orchestra based upon the lagerphone; a rudimentary percussion instrument with a tambourine-like musical quality, commonly associated with bush bands and gold rush era Australia. Presented as an anachronistic object, The Ugly Stick Orchestra explores the artists’ observations and ideas about people’s historical and environmental relationships with the land. 

Typically, a lagerphone is festooned with bottle tops from beer bottles. These bottle tops, invented in 1892, are one of the earliest products designed for a single use and are a challenge to recycle. Healy and Cordeiro describe the lagerphone “as a connection between the native Australian environment (the stick) and imported Western culture (the bottle caps). The combination of the two creates a relatively harmless folksy percussive instrument. The problem arises when the lagerphone stick grows from a branch to a tree. What was once an endearing folk instrument has grown into a monstrous botanic voodoo doll.” 

By encasing their instrument in flight cases, which typically house instruments for touring bands and orchestras, Healy and Cordeiro’s work symbolically alludes to central themes of relocation and displacement. This in turn relates to the growing pains experienced in the transformation of human endeavours from community actions to global systems.

Healy and Cordeiro live and work in Sydney. They have won numerous travelling scholarships and overseas residencies, enabling them to produce evocative large-scale works around the globe, including Australia, China, Germany, Iceland, Japan, and Nepal. They have exhibited widely including at the Chan Hampe Galleries, Singapore; Yorii-za in Kamiyama, Japan; Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; SH Contemporary, Shanghai; Galerie Gitte Weise, Berlin; Siddhartha Gallery, Kathmandu, Nepal; and Kunst Kiosk Kleinhuningen, Basel, Switzerland.

Healy and Cordeiro represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale.