is an artist, poet, songwriter, storywriter and 'live' performance painter.
He exhibits his paintings and drawings regularly in the UK and paints
as performance in night-clubs and arts events internationally, often inviting
audience participation, an activity that has been particularly successful
while working with children. His paintings are represented in collections
around the world.
Seema Gill writes: Richard Heley, dropped out of a conventional middle class family lifestyle, a restless soul, returned to the UK from Australia in 1974 to lead a life of contemplation and creativity. Played with rock bands, wrote songs and poetry and drew constantly. There followed a very introverted period studying Buddhism, a unique style of paintings emerged, depicting a world where “everything passes, everything changes, everything born knows the process of ageing.” He dislikes to be compared to any impressionist titans of the past, but he surely paints like a poet and writes poetry like an artist. His paintings represent an eager melancholy depicted in vivid colours, soul searching, coming to terms with desire, broad brush strokes, big figures filled with life’s drama and fantasy. He brought home from Australia the stunning colours of a vast landscape.
Art Critic, Nicholas Usherwood writes:
Performance painting, poetry slam champion,
interactive art with young children, song writing - such activities are
not the normal profile of a committed and intensely serious-minded and
hugely prolific artist, but then Richard Heley's whole creative career
has not followed any remotely conventional pattern. Born in Bedfordshire,
England, Richard emigrated to Australia aged 15, with his whole family.
It was a liberating decade spent there during which he quickly and, for
the first time, became aware of the strength of his creative instincts.
In the strongly egalitarian society that Australia then was, Richard Heley
found himself among some remarkably gifted and passionate teachers, most
Parker in the sculpture class. Though this was not to prove his particular
artistic direction, one senses, from the way he talks about this period
of his life, that it was the attitude of this particular teacher, which
has stayed with him ever since. A nostalgia for home and the fate of his
village football team (of which he and an 80 year old man had been virtually
the sole supporters!) drew him back to England where he has been painting
and performing furiously ever since. As might be expected from all of
this, the painting that has emerged, particularly over the last ten years
or so as he has slowly started to focus on his own rather than his more
collaborative artistic activities, reflects this extreme unconventionality.
Frequent return visits to Australia, travels through the islands of Indonesia
alongside the liberating impact of working closely with children and writing
and performing poetry, has resulted in work teeming with rich and exuberant
imagery, bold, painterly touches and brilliant colour - Gauguin meets
Chagall meets Sidney Nolan - with English restraint and reticence nowhere
to be seen, thank goodness!
“I do not start from any preconceived idea,
rather, it is a letting go process. All the accumulated images, desires,
frustrations and mental deliberations that I have collected and been amazed
or disturbed by, over the seconds, hours, days, weeks, years, are allowed
to drop onto the canvas.