MICHAEL HIGHT, born 1961 Stratford
Hight graduated B.Soc.Sc from the University of Wellington in 1982. He is a self-taught artist who has been painting since the age of 14.
During the 1990s, Hight’s focus was on abstract series of work which he enjoyed for their element of chance, and the subsequent uncertainty of outcome. These series – Heartland Trinkets (1992-93), In Trust (1995) and Seven Rivers (1995) – fused images and materials found at particular places he had visited, in an attempt to reproduce a sense of those places. In ‘Four Strong Winds’ (1996), Hight wanted to create works about rivers using as his starting point Bernini’s ‘Four Rivers’ Fountain in Rome. Again, he used found materials, this time from Italy, England and France, to make ‘portraits’ of images and forms from different places there.
His 1998 exhibition, Maungakakaramea, dealt with places and landmarks from his childhood days in Kawerau and Rotorua, and explored the middle line between ornamental, motif-based, non-Western art and the individualism and expressionistic tendency of western art.
‘Seven Rivers’ (1995) heralded the beginning of Hight’s interest in bee hives and consisted of abstract representations of hives using materials as diverse as wax strips, resin, raw canvas and oil paints. Since the late 1990s, he has painted realist series of hives set in dramatic New Zealand landscapes and, in the early 2000’s his imagery has extended to include derelict railway carriages, buildings and cars, and still life.
Headlands: Thinking Through New Zealand Art (catalogue), essay by Tina Barton, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 1992.
Art New Zealand 77, ‘Walking in the World: Michael Hight’s trust in place’, Paula Green, 1995.
Contemporary New Zealand Art 2, Elizabeth Caughey & John Gow, David Bateman Ltd, 1999.