Pat Hanly was originally apprenticed as a hairdresser, taking night classes at the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts in Christchurch, and later attending classes at the Chelsea School of Art in London, after which he returned to New Zealand to teach at Auckland University’s Elam School of Fine Arts in 1962.
An anti-nuclear activist, environmentalist and keen sailor, his work is characterised by an exuberant and lyrical Abstract Expressionism full of colour, life and energy. This vivacity and popular appeal led to prominent public commissions including murals for Auckland Airport, The University of Auckland School of Architecture, the Aotea Centre, the Peace Mural on the corner of Karangahape and Ponsoby Roads in Auckland, and a mural for the Sir Miles Warren-designed Christchurch Town Hall in 1971. In other arenas his work ranged in theme from the domestic and personal, to the outspokenly political and social. Hanley’s bright and life-affirming works were well-received internationally, represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in the Netherlands.