Throughout his long career, Patrick Hanly juggled his need to express his response to matters of social conscience with his gift for creating paintings that convey great joyfulness. The resulting works were, variously, political, reflective of 'the human condition' or observational, particularly of family and friends. (1)
Russell Haley, close friend of the artist and author of Hanly: A New Zealand Artist' reminds us that, as a primary school student, Pat Hanly's "total preoccupation with painting and drawing was actively discouraged by a male teacher". In 1948, prior to Hanly completing his fourth form year at Palmerston North Boys High, his parents withdrew him from school and organised his apprenticeship with Bert Pratt Ltd, in the hope that Hanly would become a hairdresser.
With his first wages, he bought a book of Rembrandt's drawings, which his mother quickly removed to ensure that her son was not exposed to any nudes. His mother encouraged him to enrol in night classes at the Palmerston North Technical College, which led to Hanly sitting his art school preliminary examinations in 1951. Due to the fact that Hanly left school before he matriculated, Hanly enrolled in 1952 as a non-Diploma student at the Canterbury College School of Art. As a non-Diploma student, no records of his achievements were ever kept, however, it is well known that Hanly won the 1953 Turner Prize for Landscape which was open to all students.
After leaving the Canterbury College School of Art, Hanly travelled to Europe.
Hanly worked to the mantra of "do no early works". To this end, Hanly nearly completely destroyed 'The Massacre of the Innocents Series. Hanly has destroyed, repainted or 'cleaned' any works that did not meet his high standards.
Returning to New Zealand in 1962, Hanly began painting full time, although he accepted a part time lectureship in drawing at the Auckland University School of Architecture. Hanly won the Manawatu Prize for Contemporary Art in 1966, and in 1963, '64 and '67 his works were included in international exhibitions of New Zealand art.
Women have been depicted in many of Hanly's paintings, not just for themselves, but as part of a larger context. They are not individual women, but represent the universal experience of women.
Hanly often worked in series and his most well known include: Figures in Light,'Fire and Vacation,The Fire this Time, Massacre of the Innocents',Pure Painting and Condition, Thunderland, Fire, Innocence, Pacific Icons, Energy, Inside the Garden, Torso and Golden Age.
Pat Hanly retired after the Bouquets series of 1994.