Venue for thought ... THINK ABOUT IT

Passionate about Fine Arts

Mike studied at the Canterbury School of Fine Arts in Ilam, Christchurch. Although his major was typo-graphic design, to be accepted into the course he completed all available art courses at Hagley Community College and therefore has a well-rounded understanding of the fine arts and the various techniques. Mike has a unique cross discipline approach to art and the development of his painting technique is testimony to this.

Art Practice, Process of Working & Thinking

Typical of landscapes that Mike has painted, the strokes of brush are broken by layered working, with over rubbing, and with graphite reworking. Mike wanted the works to have an ability to change mood as the light changed, he has therefore experimented with the treatment of various mediums such as canvas, cottons, and fine papers, and with different printing techniques, in the search for what he has wanted to express.

The layering, and consequent shadow characteristics, of Mike’s work are an interpretation of how he see our landscape being treated, whether that be enriched, abused, forgotten or poisoned. The layers are applied in such a way so that subtle lighting effects will make the work change how it presents itself to you. Mike has focused considerable energy on developing a technique that explores the visual understanding of light and position from the landscape, rather than an understanding of any detailed raw objects within. The works are also an expression of an introverted personality, viewpoint coming for a deep contemplative sense of “I see / I think / I am”. These works explore both the dark and interior aspects of that world, while also embodying the riches and excitement of life. Mike’s current works are primarily broken into simplified visual fields that are in each part representative of either earth or ocean, and atmosphere.

“By simplifying the visual, I’ve focused more energy on developing a technique that explores visual understanding that is light and position from the work based, rather than an understanding of the raw objects within. I create works that explore individuality, within an introverted  world which is somewhat dark and interior, while it also embodies riches of life and excitement. Only its within a form that is layered and somewhat closed from public view, therefore in this way the works that I have created change as you change the light that is shone upon them, highlighting the individual nature of the people of our world as much as differing aspects within nature”.

Works are signed: MAJ Coker


Initially influenced by experiences of international and national travel, Mike continues to explore the concept of personal journey and the state of liminality and transition. His early works are absent of definite objects within the landscapes, the works are broken into simplified visual fields – while his more recent works cast signs into focus and allow the landscape to partake as a simple ink line.

Mikes paintings through 2005 – 2007, typically are represented by layers of colour and graphite over-rubbing which allow the initial base colours to present themselves differently from their original character and form. “The edge of the work, where paint and ink sits next to raw paper, is about control and definition and conveys the message that all vision is framed by self”. Graphite lines and other such markings of his process and treatment within the raw edges reveal something of the work’s creation. They reflect the unique characteristics an individual brings with them to a journey, the environment, and the period of transition.

In the past few years much of Mikes time has been devoted to the development of his design and web business, with an art space at its front. While spare time has been at a minimum, Mike has been quietly creating new works. This show captures a glimpse of his overall direction to date – and displays growing fascination with simple use of signs and symbols in order to express stories.

Mike studied at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury. He graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and returned in 1998 to complete an Honours year. He is influenced by the works of Nigel Brown, Colin McCahon, Len Lye and most importantly by the work and attitude of the late Max Hailstone, a brilliant and inspiring typo-graphic designer/tutor .


University of Canterbury
BFA (Hons.), Fine Arts, Graphic Design
BFA, Typo-Graphic Design, Classics, Psychology, Art Education

Solo Exhibitions

2010 Christchurch, Quiqcorp Gallery, “Out of the Fire”.
2009 Christchurch, Quiqcorp Gallery, “New works”.
2007 Christchurch, Art World, “Still Shifting”.
2006 Christchurch, Art World.

Group Exhibitions

2014 Christchurch, Artbox Gallery, “Suburban Gutter”
2010 Christchurch, Quiqcorp Gallery, “I don’t, No”
2009 Christchurch, Quiqcorp Gallery, Artists included Lucy Atkinson, Roger Bays, Tton, Warren Robertson, Michael Corcoran, Doug Marquet, Linda James, Paul Johns, Jane Zusters, Andy Leleisi’uao, Yi Ming Lin.

Publication Designer

2014 Jane Zusters, unruly memoirs; nature bites back Hoe Press
2012 Zusters, Jane, Where the home is: the Christchurch earthquakes
2010-2012, Christchurch: Hoe Press.
2011 Singing in the lifeboat: the art of Jane Zusters, Christchurch: Hoe Press.
2008 John Robert Godley Trust, Godley Gifts, Christchurch.

Abstract & Post-Modern Painting