Glen Hayward’s work blends carving, painting and conceptualism to snare the viewer in a standoff around what is real or illusionary, art or not art, profound or absurd. Wish You Were Here focuses on his projects of the last decade which mark a shift away from the making of discrete objects and collections to the construction of whole spaces or environments (which often become stages or platforms for other objects). These include sculptural recreations of the interior of a Toyota Corolla recalled from childhood experiences; Neo’s office cubical from The Matrix made from a screen shot; a hidden-in-plain-sight utilities cupboard from inside Whanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery; and an accoutrement-studded ceiling from Melbourne’s swanky Windsor Hotel. Wish You Were Here is the first exhibition to bring these projects together as an ensemble. An artist of the remake, Hayward will also variously tweak or reconfigure these works to open up new meanings and associations.
Wish You Were Here also features a new body of work based on Hayward’s travel to some of the world’s major galleries. Rather than profound art experiences, Hayward walked away with bad photographs of fixings such as the gold drinking fountains and handrails from the Guggenheim Museum, and the ceiling pipes in Walter De Maria’s New York Earth Room. He later remakes these objects out of wood in his Whanganui studio. The project put a new twist on Hayward’s interest in redeploying the objects that are encountered in and/or put to work in the art gallery, which allows him to tease out the behaviours and experiences they engender, and then question how this all intersects with ‘the real world’. These sculptures are neither (or both) here or there, functional or dysfunctional. The project has become even more pointed at a time of limited travel and access to international art.
Hayward is a wayward art viewer and, in many ways, also a wayward maker of art. His work constantly forces us to look and think again. It offers a kind of everyday mysticism, challenging us to trust in or doubt the validity of the objects or experiences that we encounter in the here and now—especially inside the art gallery but also in the world beyond it.