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Brisbane Powerhouse
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Surface Tension

By Rick Hayward

Wed 04 Nov–Sun 13 Dec
(Wed–Sun only)


Exhibition Spaces



Ages + Warnings

Suitable for all ages

Presented by Brisbane Powerhouse

Surface Tension encourages dialogue around significant mental health and relationship challenges due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Through Surface Tension, Rick Hayward distils research by the Australian National University showing that “[T]here is a particularly strong relationship between changes in stress, loneliness and relationships and mental health outcomes […]” due to the economic impact and social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The exhibition utilises traditional sign writing materials and techniques to create a series of mirrors, which become tools for the viewer to assume an anthropological perspective.

Encountering distorted images of themselves and their companions, the artworks operate as windows into an alternate reality where presence can be shared, but physicality is disrupted.

A metaphor for the psychological impacts of COVID-19, the artworks and an onsite large-scale mural highlight the importance of connection, community, and established support networks for positive mental health.


A COVID Safe Plan is in place for Brisbane Powerhouse.

If you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or are feeling unwell, please stay home. Detailed information regarding your safe experience and conditions of entry can be found here.

If you have any questions, please contact Box Office on 07 3358 8600.

This exhibition is free and not ticketed, however, in no way can we guarantee availability or capacity at Brisbane Powerhouse.


Rick Hayward is an established Brisbane creative traversing the space between craftsman and artist. Hayward translates 18 years of traditional sign-writing into a contemporary studio and public art practice, alongside varied commercial projects.

Utilising social, environmental, and anthropological discourse to inform his work, Hayward’s practice is built on observation and documentation, research and reflection. His work spans large scale murals, through to studio artworks utilising skills and materials grounded in traditional sign-writing.

From reductive collagic compositions referencing hard-edge abstraction, through to typographic works grounded in his understanding of traditional sign writing, Hayward’s work represents a fluid intertextuality between commercial and contemporary realms.


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