Artists in lockdown: Glen Hayward | Sarjeant Gallery Whanganui
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Artists in lockdown: Glen Hayward

Artists in lockdown: Glen Hayward

Glen Hayward’s lockdown studio

In an ongoing series of interviews during the lockdown period, Greg Donson – the Sarjeant Gallery’s Curator & Public Programmes Manager talks to a selection of artists about what they’ve been up to since they’ve been in lockdown. The first is Whanganui based artist Glen Hayward, who returned to his home town to undertake the residency at Tylee Cottage in 2014, since that time he’s chosen to make Whanganui his permanent home. Hayward’s post-residency show – ‘Super ordinary’ was shown in 2016 and followed by ‘Dendrochronology’ in 2018 and more recently he was one of the commissioned artists included in the centenary exhibition ‘Turn of a Century’.

This is a strange time for us all, how’s lockdown been going for you? Who’s in your bubble with you?

It has developed its own texture, it has made me realise the value of the few interactions I have with people. When you texted me to ask me, I had been thinking about you the day before and it made me feel good and your text reminded me of the really decent sort of a person I had you filed away as; comprised of my encounters with you both accidental and work related. I must admit you exist as pretty special kind of person in my world. I don’t know if that would have been as present to me without lockdown. (thanks Glen for your kind words!)

My partner/lover is with me in lockdown…poor thing. We get on really well so that is a blessing, the world seems much less mystifying to her or perhaps she is more pragmatic in her engagement. So I learn a lot from that. I will have to run this past her just to check of course that I don’t misread her for you. And a ‘just teenager’ 18 who had returned from studies in Auckland she is on a different time-frame to us, goes to bed around 4 am emerges at 3 pm, doesn’t know that tea towels or vacuum cleaners exist or how and where rubbish goes. Bless the young let them enjoy it as long as they can.

Prior to lockdown you had packed up and sold your studio, you certainly wouldn’t have been anticipating that your working space might be so restricted during the lockdown. Have you adapted and have you had focused time making? Or for that matter are you making….art or something else? Bread, knitting a sweater….

Glen Hayward – a work in progress

I have a tiny shed as a studio, praise the fates.  Apart from love I am most at one when it is me and a thing I am making this just makes that more apparent.

I stripped back and re carved a cow’s skull, it has been lovely and mindless, it was originally coarsely executed. I also have a small group of works using stubbed cigarettes not sure where the volume will end up, but there is a small tabletop sculpture of a brick stuck in mortar with a candle stub stuck on with wax, with a cigarette stubbed out on top with a bent nail in the end, that I think has something to it. Also a reasonable amount of weeding and painting the ceiling in the bedroom.

Were you working on anything major when we went into lockdown? Did you have any big projects on the boil that have had to be cancelled or put on hold?

This year the plans were Auckland, Spring Melbourne, Sydney Art Fairs which are cancelled or postponed however Contour 556 Canberra is planning on going ahead, it is an outdoor public art project. Although I will be unable to travel to it and will have to install the work remotely – a pollarded tree from Whanganui. Canberra is like a city built for more people than who actually live there so has this eerie movie set quality that I love. They have a great Burghers of Calais sculpture that I would love to install it near, as the tree looks like it has fists held up to the sky in accusation but we will see.

What’s surprised you about being stuck at home 24/7?

I forgot how much I like my own company, the things that I find deeply resonate with me sometimes lose significance when I share them. They require so much context, it is so lovely to have insights and not have to share them.

In Glen Hayward’s studio

What’s the one item or items you wished you’d acquired / purchased to keep you occupied during lockdown?

A large studio but in hindsight this was good not to have, i would have felt the pressure to be too productive.

Are you more disciplined in your making or a bit distracted?

The joy is that it is like Marx’s utopia, I do a bit of writing in the morning, listen to some philosophy podcasts, look at some art books, work in the studio, walk the dog, cuddle my lover, watch Zombie films, read Lacan before bed and save the world from Coronavirus by doing so.

What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened since you’ve been in lockdown?

I did have a sulk for a few days, this can be pretty toxic, but I have learnt to communicate more, so others don’t take it personally. Because like all sulks it is about them but it is not about ‘them’ if I am attentive just about everything is weird.

Are you developing a new routine that’s helping you stay focused on either making art or just staying sane?

I’m doing a bit more working up pitches for projects, just because I have time. I find trying to visualise projects in the future especially via text is something that I put off, however four weeks isn’t that long I once spent nearly three weeks up in the forest on my own so this isn’t a big deal although I know that there is an end…of some sort.

Read any good books, listened to any good podcasts?

I am reworking my way through Seminar XI by Lacan and from it I marvel at the way people can articulate sense from what he writes. It is so resistant and that is the point, it reads me not the other way around. I read pages from Zizek’s book on Hegel, Less than Nothing whilst waiting for tea to cook. Remarkable book. My favourite Podcasts are ‘Why Theory’ Todd McGowan and Ryan Engley,The Fundamentalists,’ Peter Rollins and Elliott Morgan these casts are Lacanian influenced and ‘Against everyone‘ with Conner Habib a gay ex porn star who likes Rudolph Steiners work. They kinda build out of each other but also as individual interviews anything by Jamieson Webster or Darien Leader. On YouTube Hal Foster‘s great but Jan Verwoert also gives good juice.

 What would be your lockdown theme song?

So hard, I can’t do one ‘Love will tear us apart…again’ by Joy Division or ‘Pets’ by Porno for Pyros