Mike Hewson makes his debut with Michael Bugelli Gallery

His representation comes after unveiling a $2.5 million dollar playground in Melbourne’s Southbanks alongside a debut showcase at the Aotearoa Art Fair

Words: Adriana Borsey

New-Zealand-born artist Mike Hewson has garnered a reputation for his straight down the line perspective on risk- “you can’t escape danger”, he said in an TEDx talk in August.

Hewson is a visual artist with a background in structural engineering and heavy-civil construction. His award-winning projects have pioneered new ways to merge conceptual art projects into the public realm, with what he calls “public art outcomes.” The project has received mixed reviews by all and the loudest of them have been… parents.

His $2.5 million dollar playground commission in Melbourne’s Southbank was not the first of Hewson’s to receive sceptic reviews. Hewson has completed three other playgrounds in Wollongong and Sydney. The inspiration behind Hewson’s infrastructure was “about the future for children”, he told Virginia Trioli on ABC Radio Melbourne. “No one’s going to go to a sculpture every day, but they’ll go to a playground all year,” Hewson said.

The council of Melbourne wanted to endorse children’s ability to navigate the world, and that they have been delivered. Misshapen monkey bars, lodged and stacked buckets amongst boulder sediments on wheels, has given kids permission to explore risk. Lord Mayor Sally Capp affirmed that, “Risk play parks are proven by the experts to really enhance children’s development”.

Hewson has achieved a mastery of materials in creating the allusion of risk in a safe environment, creating a great tension between expectation and reality; fear and the other side of it.

Like his playground, Hewson’s debut gallery work is not for the faint-hearted. Auckland visitors and collectors are set to expect his ‘dirty minimalism’ with a dash of play. “It is a great honour to represent Hewson”, states Gallery Director Michael Bugelli, adding that the two have been eager to collaborate since meeting at Art Basel Hong Kong in 2017. It has been five years since Hewson’s last exhibit in his home country of New Zealand, with the interval including back-to-back public art commissions in Australia and an MFA from Columbia University, New York.

The Aotearoa Art Fair, Auckland is on from 16 – 20 November, 2022.

Address: The Cloud, 89 Quay Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

This article was posted 16 November 2022.

Image: Playground sculpture by Mike Hewson, 2022. Courtesy: the artist and Michael Bugelli Gallery. 

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