Michael Hight

Work History

Tapuae-o-Uenuku (2021)
Taitapu: Farewell Spit
Taitapu: Farewell Spit (2022)
Paterson Inlet
Paterson Inlet (2021)
Kaikoura (2022)
Tapuaenuku: The Watcher
Tapuaenuku: The Watcher (2018)
Haast River
Haast River (2021)
Haast (2021)
Ohawe (2017)

Artist Information

“The beehive paintings involve extensive travel throughout New Zealand and an element of chance. Several key ideas are at work—the idea that the paintings are a literal recovery of found sculptural installations on the landscape, notions of transformation and the electric connections between light and dark, stillness and movement, order and chaos.

"My later dark paintings delve into personal history, national history along with the abstract. These paintings may be viewed as tableaux of memory; as a conveyor belt of memory that promotes mysterious and, at times surprising, links between various objects and landscapes.” (1)

In his hyper-real paintings of beehives and their settings, Michael Hight makes close observations of the land, using these to comment on wider histories of both the human and geological environment. His landscapes may appear uninhabited at first glance but hint at human settlement and the teeming life within the ever-present beehives. At once intimate and grand, Hight’s paintings speak of not only where we live, but how we live there.

Parallel to this practice, over the last few years Hight has been developing what he calls his ‘night’ paintings. Figures, landscape fragments, and disparate objects are placed in a stark, stage-like setting to produce surreal, thought-provoking tableaux. The solid black background in each painting provides no context for the subjects and the relationships between each is ‘hidden in plain sight’, leaving the viewer to construct a narrative for each work. He examines the nature of our external and internal environments.

Born in Stratford in 1961, Michael Hight gained a Bachelor of Social Sciences from University of Waikato in 1982, following which he travelled, lived and painted in London for three years. He has regularly exhibited since 1984 and has been a full time artist since 2001. He has received several QEII grants and his work is held in many New Zealand collections including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, the Chartwell Collection and The James Wallace Trust.

1. Michael Hight, Artist Statement.


With New Zealand in lockdown, Michael Hight invites us into his studio for a unique behind the scenes insight into the making of his latest paintings. Video footage: Georgia Hight. Editing: Georgia McNeill.
Michael Hight talks to director Stephen Higginson about a selection of works from his new exhibition in the lead up to his exhibition opening. Video production: Ross Wilson.

Solo Exhibitions

Group Exhibitions