Harry Ousey (1915-1985)

Harry Ousey (1915 – 1985) was born in Rusholme in 1915 and his early years were spent walking the Derbyshire moors, a landscape that would inspire him throughout his career. Drawn to the wide expansive landscapes of Scotland, Cornwall, Derbyshire and later the South of France, Harry would collect ideas for his abstract paintings, observing the shapes of drifting clouds the patterns of dry stone walls, the flow of water and the colours and scents of wild flowers. Nature was his greatest inspiration.

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It was in 1950 that Harry travelled to Cornwall by train and bicycle to look for a place to live and work in a warmer climate. His wife, Susie, was to join him there later. Whilst there he enjoyed talking to other artists such as Peter Lanyon and Ben Nicholson but resisted getting involved with the politics of art, preferring to concentrate on his own style of painting. He lived there during the 1950’s and again between 1968 and 1971.

His work alternated between abstraction and the representational, the latter bringing in the much needed money. Harry wrote: “When one is so much part of the landscape, as I am and feel such a great attachment to it, then some from of its presence must flow through the brush, palette knife or as is so often the case – just my fingers.” Disillusioned with the British Art Scene, Harry and Susie moved to Aix-en-Provence where they settled, enjoying Harry’s increasing profile.

Unfortunately Harry died in 1985 before completing work on a major exhibition he had been planning. Susie returned to England but found it too painful to exhibit Harry’s work. Instead she left the large collection of his work for his niece Sue Astles, who has devoted her time to rekindle the interest in this great and increasingly appreciated artist.