“…I consider the depiction of the human form to be the pinnacle and greatest challenge in art…”
Hugh was born in Goroke, Victoria but has lived in Adelaide for the last 50 years. After graduating High School he went to Teachers College and became a secondary school art teacher. He taught for 15 years at various high schools around South Australia. He always felt that he would rather be making the art not just teaching it, but it became a part time affair although it was always in the back of his mind that one day he would ‘get back’ to painting. He only really started painting again about 5 years ago and has been developing his style since. His works show changes in technique and style as he searches for the direction that the art is showing him. Recent paintings show a vibrancy in colour in an effort to capture something of the mood of the moment represented.
Hugh says this about his art: “People and what they are doing has always been fascinating to me and is a major part of what is in my artwork. I consider the depiction of the human form to be the pinnacle and greatest challenge in art. And I am discovering that it is the passion and vitality of life that I want to capture in my paintings. So I use acrylics because they allow me to ‘underpaint’, then quickly, dry or semi-dry to ‘overpaint’ in transparent colour or opaque. Multiple outline and form enables me to suggest the vibrancy and energy of living, moving things. People are a major focus of my paintings. Those moments of total absorption and passion with which people do things. The people depicted are not stationary, but moving and vital. They are alert and passionate. The colour and texture, the rhythm and the composition built up through vigorous paint application aim to capture some special moments.”
Q. Have you lived in South Australia for your whole life?
A. Lived in SA since I was six years. Born Goroke Vic.
Q. How has South Australia influenced your art?
A. SA has influenced my art because of the typical Australian landscape here and because of the isolation from the mainstream eastern states art world (which I regret).
Q. When did you know you wanted to be an Artist?
A. Wanted to be an artist from young age but knew that I would not ‘make a living from it’.
Q. How would you describe your art?
A. My art is a mix of experiments in striving to find what I should be painting.
Q. Is your art based on any particular themes &/or ideas?
A. Themes of mostly people doing what they have a passion for, or even doing the simple basic things.
Q. Where did you start your journey as a visual artist (formal education)?
A. Secondary school education with some encouraging teachers, then trained as a secondary school art teacher at Western TC and SA School of Art (Stanley Street). Taught for sixteen years.
Q. Who has influenced your style, during either formal education or in your personal experience?
A. School teachers who gave encouragement at the right moment.. but mostly study of the Western tradition in art history.
Q. Who inspires you? Who are your favourite artists at the moment?
A. I am in awe of many artists, particularly young people with amazing skills and fantastic concepts that I would be lucky to dream of.
Q. Are there any other mediums that you enjoy working with?
A. Experiment a bit but it usually comes back to acrylics. Have an idea for using algae in a piece soon.
Q. What projects are you currently working on, if any?
A. Trying to purify my artwork to get away from a dependence on photographs and re-use a lot of my old life drawings as the basis for new portrait work.
Q. Are there any aspects of your art that you find particularly challenging?
A. Creativity is always a challenge. I can think I am getting somewhere, but other people might get it, or might not!
Q. Which is more important to you, the symbolic meaning of your work or the visual presentation?
A. Too much symbolism goes over many people’s heads, reliance on visual presentation only can be shallow or my taste may be off, so it has to be a balance of the two. When the ideas behind a work are visible and it also looks good, it is a very nice feeling.
Q. Do you have favourite pieces from your portfolio? Why?
A. Favourite pieces are from my latest portrait work. I believe it is the best I have ever done because it is totally from my drawings, my colours, my textures, my concepts and it is uncomplicated by cleverness.
Q. Describe the ideal environment for your creative process.
A. Ideal environment..not alone but not pressured, relaxed not tired, free to make mistakes and fix them, at home. Bit of music.
Q. What does a typical day at work look like for you as an artist?
A. I work full time measuring and photographing houses for real estate, and I paint after mid-evening most nights. Can be difficult to find the time. Frenetic when I have a new idea.
Q. How has media (traditional or social) influenced your art?
A. I’ve seen a lot more contemporary work of other people on new media.
Q. How would you describe the visual arts scene in South Australia?
A. I do not see a sharp leading edge. I think we are quietly progressing compared to other places. Young artists are here for a while, then I don’t hear about them again.
Q. Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists?
A. Not sure about collaborating. May be happening next year for SALA with a sculptor.
Q. Are you able to make a living as an artist?
A. Can’t make a living as an artist here, have to have a real job. Can’t ask realistic prices that would make it possible.
Q. What advice would you give someone who aspires to a career in the visual arts?
A. Persist. Experiment. Keep exhibiting and self assessing.
2013: Elected ‘Fellow’ of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts
2013: Winner Acquisitive Prize at Art Purchase Prize – Royal Adelaide Show ‘Shacks ` St Kilda’
2013: Inaugural Royal SA Society of Arts Portrait Prize finalist
2013: Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, finalist, ‘Out of Stone’
2012: Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, finalist, ‘Hay Plain Dawn’
2012: Characters of the Fleurieu 2nd prizewinner ‘Winemakers Hugh Hamilton and Jim-Jim’’
2012: Adelaide Art Society, Autumn Exh’, ‘On The Getting and Giving of Wisdom’ People’s Choice
2012: Limestone Coast Art Prize finalist,‘Talking About Leaving’.
2011: RSASA Summer Exhibition, ‘Too Hot To Handle’ President’s Award of Excellence and Merit Certificate: ‘Cooling Off’
2011: Adelaide Art Society Spring Exhibition: People’s Choice Award: ‘Talking About Leaving’
2011: RSASA Portrait Demonstrations, portrait: ‘Anne Levy’ selected by the sitter
2011: Adelaide Cathedral Art Show: Social Comment or Observation of Human Nature: ‘Hoppy Reflects’
2010: Flagstaff Hill Rotary Art Show People’s Choice ‘Jazz Trio’
2010: Gallipoli Art Prize finalist, ‘Thoughts of Soldiers’.
2010: Limestone Coast Art Prize finalist,‘Attitudes’.
2009: Adelaide Art Society Fringe Exhibition: People’s Choice Award: ‘Blue Dress’
2008: City of Marion Community Art Exhibition: Most Outstanding Artwork in Any Media: ‘Strings’
2008: Adelaide Art Society Spring Exhibition: People’s Choice Award:‘Strings’
2008: Adelaide Art Society SALA Exhibition: People’s Choice Award: ‘Dogs on the Beach 1’
2008: York Peninsula Art Exhibition: People’s Choice Award: ‘Dogs in the Surf’
2006: City of Marion Community Exhibition: Viewers Choice: ‘Post 185, Maxwell Terrace Bend’
2005: Adelaide Cathedral Art Show: Best Social Comment: ‘Warm Spot’
1986/7: Mintaro: Commendation: ‘Stalemate’
1973/4: Kimba Field Days: Best of Show: ‘Landscape’
Selected for Advertiser Youth Art Exhibition in 1967/8
2015: Solo Exhibition at Bremerton Wines, Langhorne Creek
2014: June/July Solo Exhibition ‘Doorways’ in conjunction with opening/and at, IBIS Hotel Adelaide Organised by Juxtapose Studios
2013: Solo Exhibition, Maxwell Wines Mclaren Vale
2013: SALA Festival Solo Exhibition ‘Imaginitis’ at 257 Sturt Road, Sturt
2012: Informal solo exhibition at The Corner Uniting Church, ‘Movement’ (Sept/Oct)
2011: Selected for Friends SA School of Art Festival Centre Exhibition
2011: SALA Festival exhibition, ‘Cyanotypes by Jean Kent, Paintings by Hugh Adamson’ at 257 Sturt Road
2011: Friends of SA School of Art solo exhibition Regency Medical Centre
2010: SALA Festival, ‘Mixed Doubles’ joint exhibition with Lyn Robins.
2010: Adelaide Art Society Fringe Exhibition guest artist for ‘Hugh and Friends’
2010: ADELAIDE FRINGE exhibition in conjuction with ceramicist Helen Taylor: ‘Canvas and Clay’
2009: SALA Festival solo exhibition at 257 Sturt Road Sturt
2007: quarter gallery exhibition ‘Impositions’ at GalleryM Marion
2006: Solo exhibition at the Green Bean Cafe, Clovelly Park
2004: present, exhibited many times with one off pieces, for service clubs etc.
1988: Port Pirie cultural centre with 6 other artists