“It was a liberating decade spent there during which he quickly and, for the first time, became aware of the strength of his creative instincts. In the strongly egalitarian society that Australia then was, Richard Heley found himself among some remarkably gifted and passionate teachers, most particularly Reg Parker in the sculpture class.
“Though this was not to prove his particular artistic direction, one senses, from the way he talks about this period of his life, that it was the attitude of this particular teacher, which has stayed with him ever since. A nostalgia for home and the fate of his village football team (of which he and an 80 year old man had been virtually the sole supporters!) drew him back to England where he has been painting and performing furiously ever since.
“As might be expected from all of this, the painting that has emerged, particularly over the last ten years or so as he has slowly started to focus on his own rather than his more collaborative artistic activities, reflects this extreme unconventionality. Frequent return visits to Australia, travels through the islands of Indonesia alongside the liberating impact of working closely with children and writing and performing poetry, has resulted in work teeming with rich and exuberant imagery, bold, painterly touches and brilliant colour — Gauguin meets Chagall meets Sidney Nolan — with English restraint and reticence nowhere to be seen, thank goodness!
“Richard Heley, the painter talks a lot about the need he feels to be able to “let go” in the making of such work, and it is his success in doing just that, which enables us, as spectators, to enter his imaginative world with such freedom and exhilaration.”