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10 Minutes with Levi Hawkin

We caught up with Auckland based sculptor Levi Hawken to find out about his background, his process and future projects.

Why have you decided to become an artist? Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you were an artist?
It was just something I always aspired to be but felt like I was constantly told I wasn’t allowed to be one. That I was doing it wrong. I don’t recall any moment when I decided I was an artist, it was just something I did on the side, just a part of who I am.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I’ve done all sorts of jobs, Dishwasher, labouring, Landscaping, building, Hair salon assistant, Skate shop manager, clothing designer/brand manager/team manager/sales for a skateboard company, freelance designer, Skate school teacher, actor/comedian…. the list goes on, I still dabble in some of those.

What are your ideal working conditions?
Making whatever I want in my own space with no limits. Probably by myself getting lost in the process.

What’s your background? Do you have a formal art education or are you self-taught?
I did art and photography at school and did ok but was disappointed with my painting grades, so I got into graffiti which is what was inspiring me at the time. I did that plus doing design work, making clothes and prints, it all kind of worked together within the street environment. I eventually did more house painting and started to pay attention to the brush paints more, I applied it to my work which went from walls to canvases and boards, then I got back into building and landscaping, doing a lot of concrete work, even a stint skate park building which taught me to make form work and started me on sculpture. Life has moulded my art into what it is currently, no formal training.

How has your work changed over time? Has your skill or ideology changed?
The force behind the ideas is the same but the intricacies of technique have improved considerably which has improved the quality of ideas in turn. Knowing a medium lets you work in harmony with it, it’s the flow state that I’m constantly looking for. For me I look at early work and it looks like Junk, more recent work looks like you could see it hundreds of years from now and it would still be cool even if it was damaged.

Where do you find inspiration?
I find it everywhere and often in unexpected places. But mostly it’s in the forms I see everywhere, the ones I like stick in my head and I want to recreate them in my own way.

What do you think are your strongest abilities contributing to the success of your work?
I think my favourite thing is my ability to draw from my memory bank of forms, at school I took sculpture in my last year and failed to make anything and got a zero. I had no idea of anything, now I have spent so many years looking at forms and creating forms that I feel confident when it comes time to create something new.

Do you do a lot of research or dive straight into a new piece?
Life is research, I generally do things as they come to me, as the research completes itself, or maybe earlier in the research and the beginning of a work pushes you to learn new skills to complete it. Learning new skills whether its tools or mediums is research.

What artists do you admire?
David Umemoto, Merda, Boris Telegon, Frank Loyd Wright, Carlos Scarpa, William Leggett to name a few.

Tell us about an exciting project you have recently completed?
I did 3 relief walls made up of concrete tiles at Sylvia Park mall which was fun. I also did a full poured in place relief wall surrounded a concrete half pipe at Te Atatu Skate Park.

Can you tell us about any exciting projects on the horizon?
I’ve just made a 3.6m tall ‘False Idol 4’ plywood sculpture for the Kaipara Sculpture gardens. It will be installed at the end of the month until the end of the year then it will be going to Splore Music festival.
Also waiting for a 2.5m tall concrete ‘Brutal Monument’ to be built in a residential Sydney property.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our followers?
Most of what I have made so far, I consider Maquettes of full-size pieces. It’s always been my intention to go big, I’m excited about the next few years.

Quickfire Questions

Tea / Coffee
Spray can / paint brush
Out for dinner / out for brunch
A movie at the cinema / a movie on the couch
Night on the town / a BBQ at a friends
Fish n chips / pizza
Jeans / Tracksuit
Abstract / realism
Minimalist / maximalist
Day at the Museum / Day at the Mall
Online / instore

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