Mikala Dwyer was born in Sydney in 1959, where she continues to live and work. Her practice is predominantly installation-based, in which she constructs idiosyncratic, personal spaces within the conventional architecture of the gallery, using materials that have a strong association with the body. Her interest in working within and against architecture is a reaction to the imperatives of ‘good design’ – Scandinavian modernism in particular. Her installations and sculptures are experimental and experiential architectures that play with the permeable and changeable nature of objects and our relationship with them. Her materials – plastic, fabric, plywood, plants and sound – are selected for their qualities of materiality or immateriality, and display an intentional lack of finish.
Dwyer has been exhibiting internationally since 1982 and was selected for the Museum of Contemporary Art’s inaugural Primavera exhibition in 1992. Her recent solo exhibitions include: the garden of half-life, University of Sydney Art Gallery, Sydney (2014), Goldene Bend’er, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2013), Drawing Down the Moon, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2012); Costumes and Empty Sculptures, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2008); Moon Garden, Aratoi Museum, Masterton (2008); The Addition and Subtractions and The Hanging Garden, Kunstraum, Potsdam (2007); I Maybe We, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington (2005) and Art Lifts, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2002).
Group exhibitions include De Rerum Natura, Studio La Città, Verona (2014); Future Primitive, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne (2013); and a major site-specific installation on Cockatoo Island for the 17th Biennale of Sydney, The Beauty of Distance: Songs of Survival in a Precarious Age (2010). Other group exhibitions were Almanac: The Gift of Ann Lewis AO, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2009); The Ecologies Project, Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne (2008); Lost and Found: An Archaeology of the Present, TarraWarra Biennial, Healesville (2008); Mystic Truths, Auckland Art Gallery (2007); Den Haag Sculptuur 2007 De Overkant/Down Under, The Hague (2007); High Tide, CAC Vilnius and Zacheta National Gallery, Warsaw (2006); Face Up: Contemporary Art from Australia, Hamburger Bahnhoff, Berlin (2003); Contempora 5, Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne (1999); OrientATION, 4th International Istanbul Biennale, Istanbul (1995) and Australian Perspecta, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (1993).
Dwyer graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney College of the Arts in 1983, and completed a Master of Fine Arts at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, in 1993. In 2009 Dwyer was the recipient of the Australia Council for the Arts Fellowship Grant.