Change and Adaptation

03. 08. 2016

Tough Guise

Artist:  Mike Tye

A Men’s Health visual art installation with voice recordings that debunks the ‘Superman’ image

Artist, Michael Tye, worked with staff from the Southern Fleurieu Health Service and various men from the Southern Fleurieu region to create  a series of four panels around the theme of Men’s Health using the central figure of Superman. The panels are accompanied by audio stories of local men who describe their health journeys including interviews with six Aboriginal Elders discussing life, family, health and culture.

To prepare for the project Mike undertook considerable research into male health issues, reading reports, viewing websites, and talking to health professionals.  He encountered the recurring view that men neglect their health because of deeply rooted cultural beliefs and values around manhood and masculinity, that in general men see themselves as protectors and providers resulting in a need to hide illness and weakness and become  ‘tough guys’.

Mike’s artwork responded to this idea of men being tough guys by drawing upon the Superman character and his alter-ego Clark Kent.   Through subverting and reversing the superman myth Mike’s work conveys the message, ‘men need to soften up a bit’ .

‘Tough Guise’ explores notions of  what it means to be tough and that perhaps it is tougher to admit vulnerability and seek help.


The project was launched on  Thursday 21 February 2013 at Southern Fleurieu Health Service.  The panels were displayed at the National Rural Health 2013 conference.

Partner Outcomes

  • a deeper understanding of the personal issues facing male clients
  • a tool for promoting preventative health messages
  • broader community engagement

Tough Guise emerged from the ‘Dressing the Building’ project.  Click here to see the Change & Adaptation project map.

Matthew Bennett

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2011 - 2014


Artist Residencies


Country Arts SA in Partnership with Australia Council for the Arts, Alexandrina Council, Government of South Australia and Medicare Local


Alexandrina Region

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.