Patrick Hayman, born in London 1915, was a notable painter and poet recognized for his highly original and imaginative works. His style was semi-abstract and his unique perspective of history and literature greatly informed his painting style. Hayman explored these perspectives in sophisticated compositions, often re-working them over several years.
Hayman spent his childhood and early teenage years in England attending Malvern College, Worcestershire. In 1936, at the age of 19, he set sail for New Zealand on the S.S. Rangitiki to join his father’s importing firm P. Hayman and Company in Dunedin. Hayman was greatly inspired by his new surroundings, in particular the artistic heart of Dunedin, and soon became friends with Colin McCahon, his wife the painter Anne Hamblett, Doris Lusk, Rodney Kennedy, Charles Brasen and Ron O’Reilly. After 18 months of working a job he despised, he began his painting career as a part-time student at the Dunedin School of Art. It was the freest he had felt in his life, now having the ability to embark on a journey of artistic self-discovery. During his study he considered himself more of a poet and writer, rather than a painter.
After three years of study Hayman left Dunedin in 1939 and joined McCahon, Lusk, Kennedy and Elespie Forsyth at the clay-built house of Toss Woollaston in Māpua. They drew, painted, and worked long hours on an orchard. Hayman viewed his time here as; “A kind of visionary state without knowing it at all.’’ Colin McCahon wrote home about this summer spent with a house full of friends in an idyllic landscape. “I have been working very hard drawing the Mapua landscape but as yet have done nothing really satisfactory. We draw in the mornings and evenings & eat at midday. It is so hot.’’
In 1940, following a brief period in Nelson, Hayman moved to Wellington to attend Victoria University. It was here he mixed with a variety of English and History students making friends with Hubert and Noel Witheford, Janet Paul and Eric Schwimmer. Hayman settled into a bedsit overlooking the Wellington harbour. He fell in love with the large ships and found the seascape magical. It was difficult to imagine he was not affected by the distant reminders of war during that time. His imaginative perspective of the landscape was formulated during this time, thus setting a mystical tone for his further work. Hayman’s love for the sea led him to Cornish artist Alfred Wallis, whom he read about during his studies. Wallis used scraps of cardboard to paint ships from memory during his time as a St Ives fisherman. This resourceful technique became a great influence for Hayman throughout his career.
During a time of discovery and self-imposed isolation, Hayman had a brief romantic affair and in 1942 his daughter, Christina Conrad was born. Conrad went on to pursue an artistic career as a painter, poet and filmmaker in New Zealand. She was unaware of who her father was and upon the discovery of his identity, Hayman became a central figure within her work. In a poem named ‘father’ she wrote of the estranged Hayman, ‘’father, you came too late, a mound of anger had grown, over heart’s divided chamber.’’ Conrad’s daughter, Miro Bilbrough, also went on to pursue an artistic career referencing Hayman in her memoir. ‘’It occurs to me that his painting, which often include poems or literary fragments, might have been gardens to him. I sometimes think of this when I am writing that I am making a garden to roam in.”
In 1945, Hayman was trusted by Colin McCahon to choose and hang pieces for his exhibition at the French Maid Coffee House in Lambton Quay, Wellington. McCahon wrote to his sister, Beatrice, stating, “Last weekend I spent in Wellington to see the exhibition. Very beautifully hung by Pat Hayman.”. Hayman was also invited to McCahon’s wedding to Anne Hamblett, giving the artist a copy of Professor Charles Andrew Cotton’s ‘Geomorphology of New Zealand’ a book that had a great influence on McCahon’s art. This gift represented a shared empathy Hayman felt for McCahon’s struggle to understand formalistic ideas of theunderlying structure of landscapes.
In 1947 Hayman returned to England on the SS Port Jackson, where he became heavily involved with the St Ives art community. The quintessential style of his work was already established, and it was further encouraged in this environment which twenty years previously had nurtured the untutored vision of the Cornish fisherman, Alfred Wallis. Hayman found inspiration from not only the seascape which fondly reminded him of New Zealand, but also other artists from the colony. Like Hayman – British artist Christopher Wood shared the same admiration for Wallis’ work which drew him to the Cornish seaside. Wood was held in high regard by Hayman as he believed his work had a real feeling for colour, life and originality. That same year Hayman’s work was exhibited for the first time in the London Gallery known for their Dada and Surrealist shows. His work garnered admiration from notable artists such as Barbara Hepworth and Peter Lanyon. In 1952, Barbara Hepworth wrote to Patrick Hayman; “There are so many of your paintings that I would love to have…”. It was at Hepworth’s request that in 1964, Hayman became an honorary member of the Penwith Society of Arts in Cornwall.
In 1949, Hayman met Barbara Judson who lived above him in a tiny studio at Kensington Church Street. The pair shared a whirlwind romance and by 1950 were married, living together in Carbis Bay very near to St Ives. Throughout the 1950’s they fluttered back and forth from London to Cornwall. In 1954 Hayman’s first solo exhibition was held at Gallery One in London. This was his first of many exhibitions in London over the next 30 years which established his distinctive presence in the British art scene. In 1965, the couple returned to Barnes where they had kept a home since 1960. It was in Barnes that Hayman founded The Painter and Sculptor magazine, a quarterly print that highlighted humanistic figurative art. That same year, Hayman exhibited Self Portrait as a Flying Machine, a work that exposed his refusal to attach to any sense of conformity, evident in many of his personal portrayals. Another portrayal of himself named, Self Portrait, was given to collector Ruth Borchard to be included in an extensive exhibition of portraits in 1965. In a letter to Borchard, Hayman stated: “I would be delighted to let you have a self-portrait for 20 guineas…I think your idea is a charming one & that a collection of contemporary self-portraits will be extremely valuable.” Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, Borchard collected 100 self-portraits from British artists. During this time, Hayman taught at the Falmouth School of Art and then at Croydon School of Art up until he had a severe heart attack in 1970, forcing him to slow down and take special care of his health.
The same year as his death, 1988, ‘Painted Poems’, a book by Patrick Hayman was published by Louise Hallett Gallery. His inventive work continued to inspire others after his death. A large retrospective exhibition was held at Camden Arts Centre in 1990. Another exhibition was held at Belgrave Gallery in 2005, simultaneously launching the publication Patrick Hayman – Visual Artist by Mel Gooding.
His work can be found in New Zealand and International galleries such as The Tate, London, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Tate St Ives, Art Gallery of Ontario, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the Arts Council in England and numerous other museums.