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  • Irene Bagach

Antigua’s Hodges Bay Goes Viral With Its New Boonji Spaceman

This article originally appeared in FORBES.

Most Instagram moments captured on a Caribbean jaunt involve epic sunsets or frothy drinks enjoyed poolside. But luxury resort Hodges Bay Resort & Spa has upped the ante on the shareable “wow factor” with its new monumental, site-specific installation, The Boonji Spaceman by contemporary artist, Brendan Murphy, whose signature spacemen sculptures are coveted by such celebrities as Serena Williams, Robert De Niro, Ryan Gosling and Novak Djokovic. Commissioned by collector and resort co-owner, Christopher Harding, the 22-feet tall, 3,000 pound chrome sculpture is the tallest sculpture of its kind in the Caribbean.

“Originally I said, ‘Let’s do something they can see from space,’” said Murphy, who’s based in Malibu but keeps an industrial team in Miami. “My vision of art is ideas that can really move the needle. I’m in the “wow” business. If I can get people to say, ‘wow,’ I do well.”

Situated at the end of the pier at Hodges Bay, Boonji Spaceman is the product of a lengthy collaboration between longtime friends Murphy and Harding. The sculpture marks Murphy’s grandest install to date and its mammoth scale speaks to the duo’s vision to create a meaningful piece to lift the human spirit. With engineering support by Andy Kostas, it took three days, 12 men, one crane and custom scaffolding to erect and is mounted into five feet of solid concrete. It’s also reinforced with a steel skeleton core, and its carbon fiber exterior is designed to withstand hurricane-force winds and other natural elements.

In addition to the Boonji Spaceman, the resort curated an art collection featuring several of Murphy's most celebrated works, including Candy Hearts, a thirty-piece, three-story hanging sculpture that’s suspended across the property’s ‘Great House’ atrium, as well as a shark sculpture titled “The Fast Eat Slow,” among others. The collection is mainly composed of Murphy’s pieces, with some by emerging and established local artists. “We set out to create a landmark property in the Caribbean known for its intimate and memorable guest experience that awakens your senses through art,“ says Harding, who’s also a venture capitalist and pro-sports owner.

An impressive art collection was an important factor in creating the property experience when Harding opened Hodges Bay in 2018 with his partner, tech entrepreneur Jeff Wellemeyer. The result is one of the most “Instagrammed resorts in the world,” where a bold mix of drama and whimsy elicit emotion among everyone who stands beneath it. “In today’s world, you need the Instagram moment, says Harding. “I knew we needed to create something that is so different, so massive, that people just had to travel to see it.”

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