Blair is joining Carriageworks from his current role of Director, Curatorial and Digital, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia where he has been responsible for the development and delivery of MCA’s artistic and digital programs as well as management of the MCA Collection through leadership of the Curatorial and Digital Division of the Museum.
“After a comprehensive national and international search process, we have no doubt Blair is the right person to lead the next era of Carriageworks,” said Sam Mostyn, Chairman of Carriageworks.
“Blair has had a distinguished career across the arts sector, having held leadership positions at four of Sydney’s key contemporary arts organisations, playing major roles in the maturing of their business operations, the extension of their national and international reputations through innovative programming and extensive relationship building, and their development of audiences across a wide spectrum of artistic practices.”
“He is passionate about the capacity of creative practices to change the lives of individuals and the vitality of communities.”
Since arriving in Sydney from Aotearoa New Zealand in the mid-1990s, Blair French has held curatorial and management roles at the Australian Centre for Photography (Program Manager), Performance Space (Associate Director), Artspace (Executive Director) and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Director, Curatorial and Digital).
In addition he was President of Contemporary Arts Organisations Australia, a formal nationwide network of contemporary art spaces, from 2006 until 2009. Blair has taught in universities here and in Aotearoa New Zealand, and published extensively. As a curator Blair has initiated and developed solo exhibitions and performance with a wide and diverse range of artists from Australia and around the world.
He was curatorial convenor of the 6th (2010 – 2011) and curator of the 7th (2013) iterations of SCAPE Public Art: Christchurch Biennial, and one of the initiators and co-curators of the first edition of The National: New Australian Art presented at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Carriageworks and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in 2017.
On his appointment, French said “Carriageworks is without doubt the most significant and exciting contemporary arts organisation to have emerged in Australia during the 24 years that I have lived and worked here. And one of the most engaging I have encountered anywhere internationally over this period.”
“Living close to Carriageworks, it is part of my everyday life, feeds my imagination and acts as a crucial hub in my experience of creative and socially engaged Sydney communities. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Carriageworks into the future. I look forward to beginning work with the wonderful team there, the many partners and friends of Carriageworks, its audiences and the artists whose ideas and work it strives to support.”
“We would also like to acknowledge and pay tribute to the interim leadership role performed by Euan Upston,” said Mostyn. “Euan will stay in the role until Blair takes up his position in August and ensure an orderly transition.”
For more information about Carriageworks, visit: www.carriageworks.com.au for details.
Image: Blair French – photo by Daniel Boud