Cultural connections

Dion Hitchens is an established New Zealand artist and sculptor represented at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, Waikato Museum and Auckland Art Gallery. Hitchens work is diverse not only in subject matter but also materials. His success lies in his approach to his work.

Hitchens’ aesthetic draws upon his cultural background – part Tuhoe, Ngati Porou, part Chinese and part Scottish; three cultures steeped in mythology and narratives of past events. These cultures also have a cosmological view of the world where past and present are entwine, and Hitchens feels strongly that values from the past inform our actions now. This creates a kind of spirituality about his work or a sense of mystery. He sets about creating iconic work, work that symbolises or stands for something even if that something is “unseen”.

His work is created for our pleasure but also to make us wonder. What does it represent? Who made it? What stories does it have to tell us? The work gives us access to philosophies and values he hopes will add to our experience as people, help us navigate our lives in the present. His sculptures provide a material body in which these “unseen” elements are at work. Carrying on the traditions of his ancestors in a contemporary format.

Hitchens experienced severe trauma in his life with the death of his father. Through the act of forgiveness he found a path forward, where the pain was bearable, and his life and those around him more positive and enjoyable. It is important to Hitchens that his work has value and provides us with a sense of connectivity.

This deep awareness of our humanity and our need to communicate and be connected to the world both natural and man-made imbues his work with a wonderful sensibility.

In many ways Hitchens is fortunate to have a balanced and mixed heritage from which to draw on ancient wisdom. He can use this to bring a sense of universality to his work making his aesthetic applicable to a wide audience.

In his 25 years of making he has made commercial pieces helping corporations align their values with the communities they serve. He has made public artworks for the wider community and he makes work for individual collectors who want a beautiful piece for their home.

He feels strongly that “we should never give up, that everyone deserves to reach their potential and that diversity of population is a gift not a problem”.

Dion Hitchens is generous with his time. He makes himself available to his community and is open and generous in talking about his work. Those of you lucky enough to have attended Art in a Garden 2017 will have been able to view his work and hear him speak about his art practice. As guest artist this year he was very well received.