“And so on dark afternoons one should take up one’s brush and paint a summer sky and beneath it the sea. Or perhaps the light on an angel’s wing. It is important, I believe, to enter another world than the visible one and by painting something which appears to be the opposite of what one sees in nature, it may be possible, momentarily, to enter a different state of being.”
-Patrick Hayman, “A Painter’s Notes” in The Painter & Sculptor, Vol. 2, No. 4, Winter, 1959 – 60
Patrick Hayman was a prolific artist in a variety of media including painting, drawing, three-dimensional constructions, as well as writing poetry and editing an arts magazine. But it wasn’t until 1938 in New Zealand that he began to paint. Born in London, he had come to this island country at the age of nineteen in 1936 to work in the Dunedin office of P. Hayman and Co., his father’s importing firm. He left the office after only two years to explore the country, and following a long, contemplative walk on the South Island, began to paint. Afterwards, he said “it really simply burst out of me with great relief.”(1)
He then attended Dunedin School of Art at King Edward Technical College, which he said, “was so marvellous because it was so disorganised. They left me totally alone.”(2) Hayman spent his time with avant-garde artists and literary people. Writer Philip Vann recounts a cataclysmic event in Hayman’s life:
One day, Hayman asked him [his friend John Findlay]…what he thought constituted happiness. ‘He suddenly said – which actually I think changed my life, “Well, in things like tying up your shoelaces.”…I grasped what he meant, which had quite an electrifying effect on me…I think he meant in actions which are terribly simple and which your mind is not engaged at all, and which may have a releasing effect on you.”(3)
In 1947, he decided to become a painter and left New Zealand for London’s more progressive artistic climate. He met a dancer, Barbara Judson, and they were married in 1950. The following year, the couple moved to Mevagissey, and then later lived in St. Ives where Hayman felt a particular affinity for Alfred Wallis, the renowned St. Ives painter. The couple moved back to London in 1953, but later returned to St. Ives, and also lived elsewhere in Cornwall.
Patrick Hayman had a strong literary talent and was the founder and editor of Painter & Sculptor magazine from 1958 until 1963. During the 1960s he also taught at the Falmouth School of Art (later renamed the Falmouth College of Art), and then at the Croydon School of Art. However, as described by Philip Vann, “…Hayman was also the least academic and pretentious of men. His own paintings and painted poems are striking for their intelligence, innocence and visionary candor.”(4)
Hayman’s painting style, informed as it was by literary, historical and mythological stories, was quite removed from traditional models. Hayman said, “As a painter I write poetry and as a poet I wish to illustrate it.”(5) He often worked on several pictures over a period of time – adding, forming, changing and over painting, finally achieving a luminous, textured surface. He was an admirer of Marc Chagall, Emil Nolde, and Edvard Munch, as well as Alfred Wallis. Like Chagall, Jewish figures and motifs can be seen in some of Hayman’s work, as both shared this religious heritage. He also felt an artistic kinship with Oceanic artists and Byzantine icon painters. In 1988, Patrick Hayman’s book of “Painted Poems” was published by Louise Hallett Gallery.
1. Vann, Philip. Patrick Hayman (1915 - 1988). Catalogue for exhibition, May - June 1995 (London: Crane Kalman Gallery Ltd., 1995)
2. Vann, Philip. "A Voyage of Discovery" in Patrick Hayman: A Voyage of Discovery (London: The South Bank Centre, 1990): 8
4. Vann (1995)
5. Hayman, Patrick. “A Painter’s Notes” in The Painter & Sculptor, Vol. 2, No. 4, Winter, 1959 – 60.
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