Chris Heaphy is of Ngāi Tahu descent and graduated from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in 1991, completing an MFA at RMIT University, Melbourne in 1998.
Heaphy’s work addressed issues and questions about culture and identity. The reoccurring symbols and signs in his paintings are deliberately open-ended in their interpretation. Heaphy refers to this as the ‘slippage of meaning of the symbol.’ For example, silhouetted forms may allude to European walking sticks or ancient Māori rock drawings. His interest is in encouraging viewers to acknowledge the way in which differing cultures, communities and individuals reveal and define their identities.
Heaphy was the recipient of the Olivia Spencer-Bower Art Award in 1995 and was represented in the 2007 Frieze Art Fair in London by Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. He has work in the Auckland Art Gallery and National Library Art Gallery in Wellington.