Artists’ Profiles: Michael Hight

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Michael Hight (b. 1961, New Zealand)

A self-taught artist painting since the age of 14, Michael Hight was born in Stratford, Taranaki. Although his work is varied, he is most commonly associated with his realistic depictions of New Zealand’s East Coast landscapes, which often appear dotted with his unmistakable beehive motifs. Although the sun-drenched New Zealand landscape serves as a predominant basis for much of his work, Hight never fails to surprise us with his delicate, and sometimes unsettling,re-presentations of his childhood.

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Auld Lang Syne (2012), The Dreams of Children, Hight

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Scenes from the Beekeepers Passion (2012), The Dreams of Children, Hight

Such exhibitions as The Dreams of Children (2012) verge on the autobiographical – Hight temporarily leaves behind his identifiable landscapes and instead conjures within his surreal dreamscapes a more personal sense of real childhood innocence. Of this exhibition Hight has said, “I am interested in the way objects, places and events reassemble themselves through memory.” His use of juxtaposition, ambiguous symbols and an overwhelming sense of the dark and mysterious, together create an uncertainty that is as curiously haunting as it is beautiful.

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The Tower of Babel (1563), Pieter Bruegel

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From the Argo to Audubon (2012), The Dreams of Children, Hight

After graduating from Victoria University of Wellington with a B. Soc. Sc in 1982, Hight travelled before living in London. This close proximity to Europe and her art was of inevitable influence to Hight. His work does not only reference Aotearoa, but also shows influence from such 16th century Northern artists such as Pieter Brueghel, whose Tower of Babel (c.1563) seems to be an integral part of his From the Argo to Audobon (2012). His use of oil paint and clean line come together to form compelling images of a high quality and finish which evoke an elegant intensity whilst mystifying and delighting viewers.

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