Barry Hughes

Date of birth
10 Jan 1963
Barry Hughes was born in Gisborne, 1963. He attended Gisborne’s Lytton High School where he studied art from the fourth form onwards, under the guidance of art teacher Darryl File. As a seventh form student in 1980 he studied art and art history, had a keen interest in oil painting, and participated in the Gisborne Printmakers group, working predominantly in zinc etchings.

In 1981 Hughes studied at Palmerston North Teachers' College and Massey University, where he majored in art, and by 1982 had won a fifth equal first prize at the Montana Art Awards. By 1983, in the third year of his degree, under the tutelage of Paul Dibble, Hughes began experimenting with ceramics, transferring his oil painting skills onto a three-dimensional canvas.

By 1985 this new-found medium, combined with a love of architecture, culminated in a near sell-out solo exhibition at Stairway Gallery, Napier, featuring oil paintings and ceramics. His style was influenced by his interest in art-deco, his surroundings in the renowned art-deco town of Napier (his new place of residence), and by the English art deco ceramic painter and designer Clarice Cliff (1899 – 1972). Within that year he'd also won first, second and third places in the New Zealand National Ceramic Artist Association's National Show. During this time Hughes worked as a Primary school teacher at Nelson Park School in Napier, and as an artist after hours.

Barry Hughes exhibited at the Gisborne Museum & Arts Centre in a group exhibition entitled 'Bizarre Beauty' along with Phyllis Underdown and Simon (Wes) Fieldhouse, Wed 24 Feb - Sun 13 March 1988. One of the pieces in this exhibition, 'Clowning Around', is now in Tairāwhiti Museum's Permanent Collection. Hughes referred to his ceramic pieces as "patchwork pots". He signed his work B Hughes within a sunflower.

In the mid 1990s Hughes developed a series of Yeeha Toys, made from recycled aluminium, including a tractor, truck, sports car, VW (Volkswagen), Morris Minor and a Taniwha, aimed at pre-schoolers (Tairāwhiti museum has a tractor, truck and VW in the Permanent Collection). They retailed under a local company in Gisborne, Toy Town Express, which had a store at the old train station.

By the end of the 1990s Hughes had moved to Dannevirke and commenced Dairy farming. More recently Hughes has been bee keeping with his son. He has a runoff boarding the Manawatu and spends time there custom building cabins and enjoying outdoor living and fishing. He no longer makes ceramics.


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