Coast

After the cathartic ‘The Fear and Thrill of the Chase’, Ashley Hanson moved to Camberwell and returned to a coastal theme in his work, combining still life - found objects - with landscape.

One of these paintings, the intensely-worked ‘Black Beach’, won Second Prize in the Hunting Art Prizes in 1991. Critic and judge Brian Sewell commented on the painting in the Observer Magazine 10 Feb 1991:

‘Of Ashley Hanson’s ‘Black Beach’, winner of the second prize, one of the grander judges complained that the idiom eluded him and that in it he could see nothing better than the tarred surface of a London street – to which the response of the real grandee of the occasion, ‘It is a compliment to the painting that it leaves you critically disarmed’

The prize funded Ashley’s first visit to the US, to see the Matisse retrospective at MOMA and his participation in the Triangle Workshop in upstate New York in 1993. 

Having worked in isolation for many years, the intensity of Triangle was extremely beneficial to his confidence and practice. For the first-time Ashley felt connected to the wider art world, both current and to its’ lineage and history.  The paintings made at Triangle were later exhibited at the Lorraine Kessler Gallery in Poughkeepsie, alongside sculptor Jon Isherwood.

It was a time of experimentation, moving in and out of abstraction. Through this process, Ashley discovered, that for him as an artist, pure abstraction was a dead-end: for his work to succeed, there had to be a context, driven by ideas and an interpretation of experience but also responsive to the excitement and revelations of the painting process. 

Without any gallery representation in London, as a discipline, every year Ashley held Open Studios at his studio/flat in Camberwell Grove, showing work inspired by journeys to Whitstable, Brighton, Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Barcelona.