Ashley Shaw



Ashley Shaw, Auckland, New Zealand.

Ashley in brief.

Ashley was born in Auckland, New Zealand. In his twenty 20 plus years as a professional artist, his works have sold to corporate and private collections in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA, Egypt, France and to collectors in a few other countries around the world. Ash is a perfectionist in the true sense of the word. He is a trained contemporary landscape, figurative and abstract artist who paints in oil. With four years apprenticed to a master, and many years experience, he is solidly based. He has worked successfully from New Zealand and UK studios. He has developed large followings of investors and art lovers in two separate national markets. He has produced sculptures and installations using various materials. His approach is disciplined, his execution expressive. His original oil paintings unfold over months. They reach people on many levels.

 Ashley Shaw - the work.

Ashley uses materials of the most exacting specifications. It means time, expense and global sourcing. He uses stretchers of museum quality. He works with the best Belgian linens. This is not just about empathy for materials and the quality of his work. It seems that his determination in this field and the discipline which underpins his oil paintings have built some long term trust among clients and their agents over the past two decades.

Works include oils, watercolors, prints, photography and sculpture. Ashley's figurative realism is occasionally woven with elements of the abstract. His landscapes often depict the rugged mountain ranges of his native lands, or mountainous landscapes of other regions of the world. He Favours large canvasses. His work is broadly based, with landscape painting, realism, large figurative studio pieces, the ethereal and luminous, and entirely abstract works. The abstract works include challenging minimalist paintings such as "Printerhead", one of his radical concept driven pieces, a few of which can be seen in various stages of completion around the studio, alongside paintings which combine realism with the expressive.

Agents and clients visit the studio by appointment only. It is an intensive environment with one purpose - creating art. For Ashley, his art is money in the bank. His studio was indeed a bank before Ashley has it converted. Ashley is occasionally asked to provide consultancy services. His understanding and interpretation of client needs has proved a strength for him over the years and occasionally this in itself has been a source of income. His global relationships with dealers and designers have enabled him to source required artwork and artists from a large field.

He also provides consultancy services for fellow professionals. The nature of art these days leaves many painters isolated. Well established artists run their own studios without employees and apprentices. When large commissions on tight deadlines come in, artists can neither afford to decline, nor produce within necessary time frames. Ashley has helped overcome these modern day issues, enabling planning, preparation and completion of paintings under these circumstances.

                "It doesn't run contra to my main aims as an artist, and I don't think it does me any harm. This type of work came to me. I didn't seek it ".

Ashley has also carried out repair work on expensive damaged art work, and advised on materials and methods. As a painter, he can produce a sky, a lake, a mountain, or a storm moving in with technical ease, conviction and speed. But there is more to his painting than technical ability. Ashley Shaw has studied the masters in depth. He has endeavored to learn their techniques - very often by a process of practical analysis and experimentation. Mastering all he finds admirable has became a discipline for Ashley. He has spent long periods analyzing paintings, getting inside minds, feeling brushstrokes, even copying like the students of old. For Ashley, J.M.W. Turner is the greatest of them all, the master of light and luminosity.                

                "What you paint is how you feel about a scene. What you see, how you react to it, how you perceive it as an individual it is emotional."


 Ashley was born in Auckland, New Zealand. In his twenty 20 plus years as a professional artist, his works have sold to corporate and private collections in New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the USA, Egypt, France and a few to other countries around the world.

He has worked in natural daylight in impressive, large and airy northern light studios  in the UK to southern facing studios in New Zealand. He takes his motifs from life. Life is never far from the studio door. The industrial strength pulley worked and counterbalanced studio easel is testimony to one of Ashley's skills. With backup from his father in his early adulthood, he became a fully qualified joiner. Ashley, like many contemporary painters equipped himself with skills required to assist in his life as an artist, and in the expression of his work. Big installations, big exhibitions, big works of art including installations and sculptures, and big paintings require large scale craftsmanship on many fronts. This includes both the painting skills and the studio skills so absent from teaching today. He has conducted a lifetime study of great painters and the methods and techniques they employed.  Ashley is as comfortable patiently applying multiple layers of the world's finest oil paints, or welding and constructing the implements and structures required in the creation of his artworks.

Early in his development he joined Rudi Musu as an ongoing apprentice and assistant.

Italian painter and sculptor Rudi formed a vital element in the development of Ashley's art.  It was through Rudi that he acquired the elusive discipline of freedom.

                "Rudi had an incredible, free flowing way of creating his work with no pre-planning, and this has rubbed off on me. I learned how to plan a project with just a few sketches. The process is thought through over many weeks. When he finally sat in front of the canvas, his vision and imagination came to life".

 It is this transference of mind to art which Ashley excels at. Rudi died early but his practical expectations of Ashley, and long work hours over several years have helped form a solid base for Ashley's working practice. For Ashley this was a personal tragedy.     

Ashley's family emigrated across the world to Britain before Ashley left school. He successfully sold into an exclusive market, both in and out of London. Ashley had shown a passion for art in childhood, and won a national award at age eight. As is often the case, there seemed to be a brick wall to acceptance. Then there was the fire at Windsor Castle. In the best J M W Turner practice of painting burning government buildings, he rendered a large canvass depicting the castle in flames. The London art market could not get enough of his landscape paintings after that. Ashley painted many large works in an artistic tour de force. Some of his inspiration came not from burning castles and luminescent landscapes, but from the Welsh and Scottish mountains where he trekked and climbed. A challenge arrives for artists who become popular. By nature they have to keep developing, but there are commercial risks with change. He boldly and sidestepped this potential problem by developing new direction in both his art and his life. He started demanding more of his viewers, with a more contemporary approach. He decided to move back to New Zealand. There he would be among the soaring mountains of South Island, but it would also mean new market for Ashley, where he was little known as an artist. This was 2002.  

 Though a New Zealand native, a long period away had left him as an outsider in a vibrant but almost impenetrable marketplace. He faced a new brick wall. It is difficult for overseas painters to get into a market dominated by brilliant home grown talent. He knew that if he could get a break with a dealer, his paintings would sell. Getting the break was the problem. A spell out of the art world running a New Zealand company's South Island franchise didn't help. Nonetheless, he managed to get artwork completed. The break came with a single dealer putting his work in a gallery window. He found himself hosting sell out shows and running limited editions of his originals as well as buying a house. As an exponent of the techniques of great masters, collectors came to him for his Turner style paintings. He became widely accepted. His skill in rendering light and atmosphere in a direct and visceral way was ensnaring new admirers and ensuring new sales.

Then, at 4:35 am local time, on the 4th of September 2010, the Canterbury earthquake struck South Island, New Zealand.  The neighborhood was totally wrecked. Ashley and Louisa were literally hurled about. Their house was damaged. Strong aftershocks followed, keeping the whole population on edge over the next five months with over 5000 of them in that period. Then, on 22nd Feb 2011, an even bigger earthquake devastated Christchurch. Lower on the Richter scale, it was perilously close to the surface, with huge damage to this beautiful Victorian city of nearly half a million. There were many fatalities and it temporarily halted the economy. By this time, Louisa's English family were worried and Ash decided it was time to return to Britain for a few years. This was a risky move in terms of his art, but he set about a realistic long term plan to re-start UK sales.

The depth and warmth of his paintings demands and sustains attention. Because of the long slow process of painting many different transparent layers, his paintings undergo color shifts in different lighting conditions, constantly giving the effect of new feelings and nuances. His unorthodox way of painting is directly reflected in the fluidity  of the scenes he creates. The sheer brilliance of the source pigments contributes to this overall sense of presence and place. His knowledge of paints allows these fine veils of color to give tremendous mood and atmosphere. Ash is  a perfectionist in the true sense of the word. His original oil paintings unfold over many months. He produces a maximum of six large pieces per year. His approach is disciplined. His execution is expressive.

                Ashley Shaw's paintings reach people on many levels.


(written by)

Joe Francis Dowden


2019 Update.

 Since finishing the exhibitions in London he has now returned to New Zealand in 2019. Ashley now brings with him 4 large works of snow capped mountaintops that is a familiar sight in the southern Alps.  Now in his mid career he is an international artist producing a limited number of works each year.