Fragment of 'Cucumber and salad cream sandwiches' © Hayley Harman
Oil, Gesso, Charcoal, Pastel and Oil Bar on Canvas. 39.5 x 31.8 x 1.3 inches.

Student Spotlight: Hayley Harman, Manchester Materials Prize
June 3, 2019
The next student to be featured in our Student Spotlight series is Hayley Harman, recipient of a £500 Materials Prize awarded by ACS at Manchester School of Art in 2018.

This prize marks the first time ACS has worked with Manchester School of Art, part of Manchester Metropolitan University, where we awarded two £500 Materials Prizes in 2018. Over the course of last year, ACS was able to partner with more institutions than ever before to award a record £30,000 in educational bursaries and prizes to students throughout the UK.

Find out more about how Harman approaches using oil paints, bars and pastels in her work, and how overlooked aspects of the everyday inspires the work being produced during her final year of undergraduate study.


Q. How would you define your work in three words?


Stimulate, replete, equanimity.


Q. What does winning the ACS/Manchester Metropolitan Materials Prize mean for you as an artist?


It’s a fantastic feeling being recognised and complimented by an organisation separate to my art school. I think that in terms of adding to drive and ambition it can only be a good thing, often artists will face setbacks and failure, but that is all part of the journey of creation. So being supported into my third year of my BA by ACS is a really remarkable thing.


I will be using the Prize to invest in artist quality oil paints. At the moment, I am using student quality paints, which at times can be frustrating because they do not hold the brightness of an artist quality paint, yet I also felt whilst I was still grappling at what my practice is through second year, the expense of artist quality paints was not completely justifiable.

But now I am at a stage in my practice where I need to add the quality edge and to begin to develop on what I have learned of myself and my painting. Naturally as well the money will also be spent on canvas material for painting on, and wood for building my own stretchers. I will also purchase some new mediums that I haven’t tried before.


It will improve my knowledge on my materials, to see how the use of better quality paints will affect how I work and how my work is viewed. Will the imagery I create change and the textures function differently? I can become an expert at my craft.

It will all also ultimately help me to produce my best works that can then go on out into the world. Adding confidence in myself and my work I can strive towards a bright degree show and future potentially doing an MA/MFA.


‘The Pink One’ © Hayley Harman
Oil, Gesso and Oil Bar on Canvas. 39.5 x 31.8 x 1.3 inches.


Q. What medium do you mainly work with and why?


I mainly use oil paint alongside oil bars and oil pastel. I favour these mediums because oil is long used and can produce the imagery I desire to translate onto a surface. The freedom to mix and experiment with mediums is super appealing – it’s the production of interesting line and texture in my work that makes me excited. The slow drying time of oil paint means I have the freedom to alter and move and adjust, so as my thoughts and associations pass through into the paintbrush I am flexible to record these marks. This patience of the medium is essential in my process.


Q. Where do you find most inspiration for your work?


The overlooked aspects of the everyday. Including the words of other people, I overhear, or engage in conversation with. Including conversations with myself through automatic writing and poetry. But I also find inspiration in colour and line. Engaging with paint in particular – admiring it and experimenting with it.


Q. Take us through your working process.


Compiled lists of poached words and sentences will go on to form automatic writings. It is then from these automatic writings that my paintings are produced.

Oftentimes through making a work the origin of writing will be lost – meaning I could not pin point the starting point – it is forgotten or hidden. In contrast, sometimes I will recognise an aspect of the work and can immediately associate it to the writing it began with. I might work on several pieces at once and see crossovers in marks. The works are usually complete with an inner feeling of known finality to them.


‘I tried to kiss him so he roared at me like a lion’ © Hayley Harman
Oil, Gesso, Charcoal, Pastel and Oil Bar on Canvas. 20 x 20 x 1.3 inches.


Q. Can you remember the first work of art that you created? What was it and why was it so memorable?


I can distinctly remember when I was little – I was drawing a picture of the angel Gabriel as a girl, because I thought he was a girl, and then being told off by my
teacher because I had drawn it wrong.


Harman’s work will be on display at the Manchester School of Art Degree Show 2019 between 7 – 19 June. Find out more information about visiting the exhibition here.