Hamish Horsley's artistic evolution has been a lifelong process of exploration and achievement, moving from realism to the conceptual, from early figurative work to monumental abstract compositions. Encompassing sculpture, painting, landscape design, photography and teaching, his imagery and expression reflects his continuing quest for artistic, spiritual and ecological awareness, underpinned by his capacity to find creative possibility in a wide range of countries, landscapes and cultures. His work is found throughout the UK, Northern Europe, the Middle East, New Zealand and more recently India, Vietnam and Thailand.
A New Zealander, Horsley’s early art school studies at Christchurch’s Ilam School of Art were discarded in 1971 when he left his home country seeking adventure in Australia, SE Asia and India. He then spent two years studying meditation in a Himalayan ashram before his ‘restless search’ as he described it, prompted another complete change in direction. Leaving India in 1976, Horsley moved to London in pursuit of his own cultural heritage and the continuation of his art school studies. It was to be his home for the next 35 years.
A classical art education at London's City and Guilds Art School gave his work a solid figurative foundation. Later at the Royal College of Art, where he graduated in 1986 with Master’s Degree in Sculpture, his work and his imagery evolved into something more abstract and organic.
With a growing interest in Zen and the natural landscape, Horsley began a series of new and experimental earth sculptures, moving away from a studio based practice and working directly in the landscape; mounding earth and placing boulders, shale and other stones in a series of patterns on and into the ground, symbolising movement, mood and stillness; of falling water and rising earth.
This change coincidently led to Horsley’s growing focus on the public-arts; on urban environmental projects that embodied the artist’s vision of space, harmony and design. It was a move that was to define his sculptural style and occupy much of his career. Working in stone and often on a monumental scale, the carved, constructed and multi-faceted forms of his larger projects embrace the space they inhabit, integrating imagination, sculpture and function. ‘The Way’ at Durham, built on a hill overlooking Durham Cathedral exemplifies this. Integrating with the site’s commanding position, the sculpture clearly functions on its own accord while its narrative is inseparable from the cathedral on which it is centred.
"My objective in the public commissions was to create a visual harmony, a natural empathy, between the sculpture and its environment. Such works can increase an awareness of place and to provide a means to see and feel our habitat in a different way."
Horsley’s most prestigious public work, the Tibetan Peace Garden set in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum in central London, sets out to accomplish just this. Drawing together structural complexity within a simple harmonious arena his vision of architecture, sculpture and spirituality, combined within a single concept, becomes a powerful reality.
A lifelong fascination with travel, frequently into the unfamiliar landscapes in Tibet, China and South East Asia has given Horsley an abundant source for much of his creative expression, comprehensively documented in photography and sketchbook studies.
These images continue to form an essential component in both his on-going work and exhibition programmes in which he merges his sculpture, painting and photography into an articulate creative vision, framed by strong environmental, philosophical and cultural values.
Returning permanently to New Zealand in 2011 after rediscovering the country’s magical landscapes, Horsley is currently living in his old hometown of Whanganui, working on a collection of painting and sculpture that integrate his past and present within the landscape and culture of Aotearoa.
(Catalogue introduction - ‘Earth Rising” WH Milbank Gallery, 2017)