Artist & Lecturer (1964-1969)
Tom Hollins founded the Leeds Day Training College in 1959. It was re-named the James Graham College in 1961, and was designed for mature students. At nineteen years of age, the artist, Patrick Hughes accepted his place, as the youngest student on the Literature course as part of the school’s first intake.
On his first day, Hughes was asked to write about six authors that he particularly liked; Lewis Carroll, N.F. Simpson, Samuel Butler, Christian Morgenstern, Franz Kafka and Eugene Ionesco, by the head of English Mrs Hanson. After this submission, Hanson informed Hughes that the course wouldn’t cover literature beyond nineteenth-century novels, and so he was transferred to the art department by Muriel Atkinson, who said of youthful Hughes “we will take him, he sounds interesting.”
Denied by Literature and redeemed by Art, Hughes attended a six-week Basic Design course, taught by lecturers and influenced by Harry Thubron of Leeds College of Art, were students were encouraged to develop their own art in between teaching practise and education theory. Hughes recalls: “I began to paint on hardboard with gloss paint, devoted to wit and humour like the writers I admired. I was influenced by Paul Klee, who combined design with a variety of child-like representation, partly because I only had simple skills, I was a complete beginner at art. Like Klee, I looked for variety in imagery; liquorice allsorts, ghosts, hearts, rainbows, eggs, maps, crenellation, a postbox.”
Hughes’s first exhibition opened at the Portal Gallery in London, a few days after the course had ended in July 1963; he was only twenty-one years old. The catalogue essays were written by David Sylvester and George Melly. He notes: “because my best work was there, and not at my final assessment, I only got an A minus. I went on to show in London in 1963 and 1965, and since 1970 I have exhibited with Angela Flowers Gallery all over the world, in more than a hundred solo shows.”
Hughes went back to teach drawing and painting at Leeds College of Art between 1964-1970, as a senior lecturer. His magnum opus in his chosen field of paradox and oxymoron, is reflected by his book Paradoxymoron, published in 2011.
“When the principles of perspective are reversed and solidified into sculpted paintings, something extraordinary happens…The mind is deceived into believing the impossible, that a static painting can move of its own accord.” - Patrick Hughes