Sadly one of The University of Western Australia's most renowned Fine Arts alumni passed away suddenly on May 12 in a Manila hospital at the age of 57. Martin was in the Philippines undertaking an artist's residency following an exhibition of his new paintings at the Drawing Room in Singapore. Feeling ill, Martin entered hospital to have treatment for the flu – he was diagnosed with advanced leukemia and died suddenly within 48 hours. His surviving family plan to have his remains cremated and to returned to Germany where he was born.
Heine was born in Villingen-Schwenningen in 1957, a small village west of Munich and just north of the Swiss border. At the age of 19 Martin went to Berne in Switzerland to attend the School of Creative Art and completed a screen-printing apprenticeship before they migrated to Australia in 1987. Heine attended the Claremont School of Art in 1990-91 and was one of the first students to enroll in the new Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) program at UWA in 1992.
Completing his undergraduate degree with distinction, he concluded his time at UWA with a BFA(Hons) in 1995 (awarded the Matilda Award for Cultural Excellence in Fine Arts) and a Master of Fine Arts in 1996-97. Shortly afterwards Martin received a full postgraduate scholarship at the University of Sydney and concluded his PhD through the Sydney College of the Arts in 2004. Since 1998 Martin divided his time between a number of places in Europe, Asia and Perth.
During his time as a student at the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at UWA, he set the benchmark amongst the initial group of students for dedication, innovation and sense of imaginative adventure. He was instrumental in expanding the creative possibilities of critical enquiry and was admired by everyone for his wild humor and willingness to give anything a go. Film, video, painting, printmaking, sculpture, installation and performance all provided optional paradigms frequented by Martin at various stages across his life.
Passionate about art, the craft of making and the development of courageous conceptual thinking, Heine will be long remembered for the many colourful ‘physical illustrations’ that he performed over the past 20 years. As an exhibiting artist his object-based works are represented in many public and private collections across the world. In 2011 his mentor and close friend David Bromfield completed Now For The Hard Part: the Work of Martin Heine 1965-2010 – a major publication that examined Heine’s ideas and works since his childhood (published by Brown Art Consultants).
Martin’s sudden passing this month shocked everyone – those that knew him, knew of him and those that had only heard of his many exploits. He was a generous, unique and talented individual – he will be sadly missed by all his friends and peers, yet leaves us with wonderful legacy of works and Heine stories that stand as a testament to his optimism for art. Our condolences go out to his family, his friends, his colleagues at the Kurb Gallery and all the alumni from the former BFA.