A LIFELONG passion for art has led Davenham artist Amy Hughes to the city that never sleeps.

The 27-year-old oil painter, who went to Cransley School and Sir John Deane’s College, has been wowing Manhattan’s art world for more than five years.

She’s studied fine art at the New York Academy of Art, sold work at Sotheby’s Auction House and exhibited in galleries such as the Manhattan Arts and Antique’s Center.

And as well as exhibiting and teaching advanced oil painting at New York Academy of Art, the talented creative is currently one of a number of artists showcased in the International Portrait Biennale Exhibition Museum at the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art in Wisconsin where her painting of my late grandfather has been shortlisted for the People’s Choice award.

Gemma Sproston spoke to Amy to discover more about her artistic vision, her life in New York and what she misses about home.

Tell me a little bit about your creative background?

“I always loved art and I won the art award in high school, so you could say I was ‘good’ at it, but I always saw it as a passion or hobby and not a path my life would actually take. Unlike a lot of my artist friends, no one in my family was an artist, so I had no idea it was actually a viable career and for that reason I always planned to do architecture.

“When I was at Sir John Deane’s College I remember a university came in to talk to those of us interested in architecture and having heard them speak about it I realised it wasn’t what I personally wanted to do. Looking back, I’m so glad I decided to follow my passion as it is such a fulfilling feeling to be immersed in the arts every day. I genuinely get to say I love what I do.

Northwich Guardian:

What memories can you share about your artistic side while growing up?

“My earliest memory happens to be getting in trouble at nursery for mixing the paint together and ‘ruining it for the other children’! I wasn’t mean to be doing that, of course.

“I was always doing things a little differently and my mum encouraged me to paint from a very early age. I had my own mini easel and paint set, so it always just was a part of what I did for as long as I can remember.

“The artistic education that I had at Cransley School and Sir John Deane’s college were very inspiring - I had two amazing teachers at those places who created a very nurturing environment but also pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Northwich Guardian:

At what point did you truly know you wanted to be an artist?

“The most defining moment I ever had was when I went to see a retrospective show on my favourite artist, Jenny Saville, at Modern Art Oxford. It was at that show I experienced something I never had before. I felt like these giant paintings engaged all my senses. I remember almost feeling the taste and texture of the paint in my mouth.

Where do you take your inspiration from?

“I try to draw inspiration from experiences that affect not just myself but everyone. Ultimately, I want people to feel connected to my work. In the painting of my grandad, even though it was a portrait of him, I wanted the viewer to feel the sense of loss I felt from him passing away. I wanted them to feel like they didn’t have to know him in order to understand.”

Northwich Guardian:

How do you feel when you paint?

“There is definitely a process. Typically, I think about the themes I want to explore in my work. In most cases this has something to do with themes surrounding the representation of the female body, both in art history and contemporary visual culture.

“There are times when I paint where I go into the zone and I don’t recall actually doing some of it. Other times, it can feel like a real battle. Every painting is an emotional journey of feeling exhilarated and then the next minute very frustrated.”

What’s it like to live and work in New York?

“I was exhibiting in England when I decided to further my studies and apply to study a two-year Masters of Fine Art where Jenny Saville sometimes teaches, at the New York Academy of Art.

“I’m currently working at this institution, teaching an advanced oil painting class. I never would have imaged I would one day study my masters at the academy let alone work and teach there. I’m very grateful I get to see these students become successful and impart my knowledge to them.

Northwich Guardian:

“My favourite things in New York is to eat out – the restaurants are amazing, especially the pizza! I also love having some of the world’s best museums and galleries on my doorstep. Knowing I get to exhibit at some of them, including Sotheby’s Auction House, really is a dream come true!

“I definitely miss home at times, especially my friends and family in Cheshire. I also miss horse riding and the lovely fresh air. Everywhere always looks so green when I return!

What’s next?

I’m continuing to teach will continue to exhibit in New York City and abroad in solo and group shows. Next up is a group exhibition of work from the artist-employees of the New York Academy of Art.

To find out more about Amy’s work visit amyvhughes.com