Artistic License: Nicholas Hely Hutchinson

“From Dublin to Connemara” is NICHOLAS HELY HUTCHINSON’s eighth show at The Oriel Gallery revealing the artist’s passion for Ireland and contrasting landscapes and cityscapes …


“Whatever the theme, town or country, the motivation is the same. I try to paint pictures that capture the atmosphere and essence of a place … moments I find beautiful,” says Hutchinson, who lives in Dorset, though enjoys painting holidays in Ireland. His lyrical images capture the places he discovered on his last visit to Galway and Dublin.

When did your fascination with Ireland begin?

My grandparents lived in Tipperary, so I have many happy memories of that part of Ireland throughout my childhood. In my early 20s I visited the west of Ireland for the first time, apart from a couple of fleeting visits when I was younger. I spent a lot of time painting with an old friend in County Mayo … the dramatic landscape around Clew Bay and Achill Island. I’ve returned many times since.

Where are some of your favourite haunts in Galway?

I was staying in Roundstone, that lovely fishing village, in September/October last year. I painted several pictures around the harbour, and then travelled further afield to places like Dogs Bay, Ballynahinch, Inishnee Island and that wonderful bog road that goes to Clifden. I was particularly inspired by the barren beauty of the Aran Islands.

How and where do you work?

I used to work out in the open, facing the elements. And although this can bring freshness to the paintings, I felt that I could get more into a painting in the studio.

I like to travel around, making sketches in my sketchbook, and writing notes. Collecting lots of ideas, and trying to work out compositions. I do sometimes use a camera. This is usually to photograph a moving animal, or a boat or something that is difficult to capture in a sketch. I try to make life as easy as possible for myself, so that when I get to the studio I have a large amount of information to choose from. This is such an exciting time, with so many ideas, that I can’t wait to get them down on canvas.

Have you had any mentors or muses in your artistic journey?

When I was an art student, I was fascinated by many Cornish artists. We were taken down to Cornwall and we met many wonderful painters, including Patrick Heron, Terry Frost and John Wells. Also I was influenced by Bryan Wynter and Peter Lanyon. As a student I met the painter Alan Reynolds, who has remained an influence throughout my painting career. I like going to galleries to see exhibitions, and I am always picking up new ideas. I am currently interested in the paintings of Mary Newcombe, the landscapes of Gustave Klimt and Winifred Nicholson. It changes all the time!

How has your painting style evolved?

I think painting is a constant learning process. When I look at paintings from ten years ago, they are slightly different from those of today. I used to be more interested in colour, and I think that now I am more interested in light. And the way that light can create an atmosphere in the painting. It is always interesting, and I am always seeing new things that inspire me and I am learning all the time.

Need to Know: “From Dublin to Connemara” exhibition is on at The Oriel Gallery, 17 Clare Street, Dublin 2.

Penny McCormick

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