Gordon Hanley

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Gordon Hanley

ARC Living Master TM

Australian 21st Century Realist artist

Born 1954

Born in Southport, England

  • Artworks
  • Biography



Born 1954 in Southport, England, Gordon Hanley migrated by boat to Australia with his parents in May 1960. His childhood was marked by a largely migratory existence which saw him live variously in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, followed by 8 years on a farm in rural Queensland. Winner of a Commonwealth University Scholarship he attended University of NSW and then University of Queensland and holds a B.Sc., B.A. and Dip Ed.

During this time he worked as a builder's laborer on construction sites, worked in a gold refinery and as a scientific research assistant. He then served 5 years in the military. Following work as a teacher in Science, Mathematics, History, Art and English Literature he gradually built up an art career which was launched in 1990 at Kenmore Gallery, Brisbane with a solo exhibition of 40 watercolors which sold out in 45minutes.

From early childhood he displayed a talent for drawing and painting but due to unfavorable economic and personal circumstances he made a comparatively late start as a full-time artist. Following a second sell-out exhibition at Kenmore Gallery a year later, at 37 Hanley began life as a full time artist. Over the next decade he released over 50 prints in open and limited edition format - his high detail, narrative works making him one of the more recognizable artists in Australia. From 2000 - 2005 Hanley was Artist in residence at Queensland Museum and was a member of the Royal Queensland Watercolor Society.

Fascinated by the drawings of da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo, since 2009 Hanley's art shifted from watercolor painting to drawings in the Renaissance medium of metalpoint. Moving from the more traditional silver on paper, most of his recent work features drawings in 24ct gold on paper with prepared grounds of his own design and development. Using continually evolving techniques, he has moved this ancient art form into previously unexplored territory, opening it up to new possibilities. His current work in this medium features still life, figure work and portraits and he is now recognized as one of the world's leading artists in this medium.

Over the past 5 years he has passed his knowledge on to hundreds of other artists in live demonstrations, and has been the subject of a number of TV programs and magazine articles. His contribution to realist art was recognized by the Art Renewal Center who in April 2014 awarded him the status of "Living Master" (ARCLM).

Currently represented by Morpeth Gallery, NSW. Australia.

Printed References since 2000
  • International Artist Magazine Aug-Sep 2011 (IA 80)
  • Australian Artist Magazine (Vol 27 no.10) April 2011
  • Artist's Palette Magazine No.94. 2011 "Master Craftsman Gordon Hanley" Dalerie Patterson
  • The Artist (UK) Spring ed2011
  • The Canberra Times Arts Review Apr 20, 2011 - Jacqueline Williams
  • Artist's Palette Magazine No.93. 2011 "Master Craftsman Gordon Hanley. Pt. 2" Dalerie Patterson
  • Artist's Palette Magazine No.92. 2010 "Master Craftsman Gordon Hanley Pt. 1" Dalerie Patterson
  • The Cove Magazine 2010 - Rhonda Oxnam
  • The Hunter Post Jan 20, 2010 "Medieval Masterpieces"
  • The Hunter Post Jan 21, 2009 - Megan Cunneen
  • Maitland Mercury Jan 27, 2009 - Katie Smith
  • The Herald News June 6, 2009 - Donna Sharpe
  • Newcastle Herald Jan 26, 2009 - Lisa Barritt-Eyles
  • Austringer Magazine Annual 2008 Front cover and article (reserved for "The best Raptor Artist in the World".
  • The Courier Mail Nov 2003 - Hannah Brooks
  • Australian BirdKeeper Dec 2001
  • Gold Coast Weekender Oct 6, 2001 - Brian Mossop
  • Access Magazine State Library of Queensland 2001
  • Brisbane News Nov 2001 - Phil Brown
  • Newcastle Herald Apr 21, 2000 - Linda Barnier
  • The Weekend Australian Magazine Aug 19, 2000 - Mike Safe

Book: "Jewels Of Nature: The Parrots" ISBN 0-646-41597-2 features over 120 paintings of parrots.

A Note About Metalpoint

To readers unfamiliar with the medium, metalpoint is simply the art of drawing with a metal wire directly on to a sheet of prepared paper. To make marks on paper with a piece of metal, the paper has to be first prepared with a special abrasive undercoat. Many metals are suitable for use in metalpoint drawings: copper, lead, nickel, brass, even gold and platinum, but the most familiar and historically significant drawings were done using a fine silver wire, termed "silverpoints".

The high watermark of silverpoint was reached during the Renaissance. Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, and Albrecht Durer were all masters of the medium and some of the most beautiful and recognizable drawings in the history of art were created during this period (for example Durer's "The Prayer" and many of da Vinci's portraits). One only has to look at a Raphael or a da Vinci silverpoint to appreciate the exquisite subtlety of line and tone that was possible in the hands of a master. By 1550 however, the art of metalpoint went into rapid decline, due largely to the discovery of graphite in England around that time.

Graphite had a number of advantages over metalpoint. Graphite drawings could be done on unprepared paper, mistakes could be erased, graphite was much less expensive than precious metals, but most importantly, allowed an uninterrupted tonal range from white to dark grey. What was lost in the demise of metalpoint was a beauty of line, a richness and depth of tone, combined with precision and longevity that few other art media can rival.

"Given the medium I choose to work in, it is perhaps surprising that I am not particularly influenced by the silverpoint drawings of the great Renaissance masters. They do not touch me emotionally in the way a work by Rembrandt does. Other artists that have had an influence on my work are Vermeer, Caravaggio, the Pre-Raphaelites and various other 19th century realists and from more recent times, Andrew Wyeth. The reasons they strike such a chord with me are their narrative skill, their command of light and shade, composition and their ability to elicit an emotional response in the viewer. I am a realist artist, and on that broad spectrum of interpretation, I create fine art. This is the artistic style and imagery by which I choose to visually communicate my ideas, and I find that people tend to understand this more intuitively when viewing a realist work than they do with an abstract representation. Because metalpoint is a monochromatic medium, qualities such as composition, light, tonal effects, emotional impact and narrative content are all enhanced once color has been removed from the equation. It is no surprise then, that there is often a good deal of resonance between these works and those of fine art black and white photography.

The precision and high degree of realism of my work has sometimes led to it being referred to as "photorealist". However, there is a narrative that has always flowed through my pictures and often a strong emotional content that is at odds with the movement. For these reasons I do not see myself as a photorealist, even though my works are often mistaken for fine art photographs. It is my view that there is so much more that an artist can convey to the viewer than a mere representation of reality - however well that can be technically achieved."

Metalpoint is an extremely challenging medium, largely because once drawn, a line is impossible to remove. The result is an art form requiring intense concentration and skill from the artist. There is also physicality to the work as it demands a constant pressure on the stylus, but at the same time perfect control. Few techniques demand so much of the artist, yet if mastery of this incredible medium has been attained, the results can be amazing. Portraits and figure drawings created in gold have an ethereal beauty quite unlike those produced by other drawing media. Despite its ancient origins, the possibilities of metalpoint have been barely explored, and it offers artists enormous potential for expanding their artistic horizons.