Mike Crawshaw, now a full-time painter on Waiheke. Photo Sandra Chesterman

Many people fantasise about throwing in their job, moving out of the city and fulfilling a dream of writing or art making. Most don’t. Mike Crawshaw has. In May he left his position as a manager at the Refugee Status Unit of Immigration New Zealand to become a permanent resident on Waiheke and work full time as an artist.

He was already familiar with the island – a regular visitor since childhood – and has always made art, more seriously since his selection as a finalist in the 2017 Wallace Art Awards. The transition from working full time under pressure as a team manager to being self-directed and working alone has been challenging but painting is now his full-time job. “I want to put as much energy and time into that,” he says, “as I did in my previous work.”

He has already established routines and is building up a body of work. His style is largely representational, influenced in part by artists he admires such as American Eric Fischl, who he believes creates a sense of impending doom or anxiety in his work. An edginess is evident in Mike’s own work in the posture and expressive broken brushwork of the portrait he is pictured in front of here. The finely worked head of Grace, her slightly frowning gaze, caught by something outside the picture plane and the sketchiness of her body add a feeling of unease. 

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