Wilfred Hayward Veal, painter, was born at Eaglemont, Victoria, in 1913. Despite receiving formal training in his father’s trade as an apprentice printer, Veal turned to painting. He commenced art classes at the age of 17 with Archibald Colquhoun, followed by classes with Colquhoun’s own mentor, Max Meldrum. Veal joined the Max Meldrum School of Painting in 1932, where he later served as an Instructor. In 1937, Veal held his first solo exhibition at Hogan’s Gallery in Melbourne, subsequently travelling to Sydney in the same year. Upon arriving in his new hometown, Veal established an art school in Rowe Street, known as The Meldrum School.
Hayward Veal’s career in Sydney was varied, as he taught art, exhibited his own work, became an art critic for the Daily News and a frequent contributor to the ABC’s magazine Talk. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Veal served as an inspector in a Sydney aircraft factory, all the while maintaining his influence in and support of the arts. In 1940 he was made a Fellow and (later) Vice-President of the Royal Art Society NSW. During the following year, Veal became Vice-President of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, he was appointed to the War Art Council and he occupied the position of Southern Buyer for the Queensland Art Gallery.
Significantly, in 1944 Hayward Veal founded and became the first President of the Encouragement of Art Movement (Bernard Smith served as the Vice-President). This movement was a driving force in the artistic education of the Australian working public and later evolved into an organization that eventually became the Arts Council of Australia. As the above roles attest, Veal was an active member of the Sydney art scene, where he also gave talks at art schools and lectured at the National Gallery of New South Wales (later named the Art Gallery of New South Wales). In 1950 he briefly returned to Melbourne to serve a 3-month term as the Acting Head of the National Gallery Art School.
Earlier, in 1944, Hayward Veal had married Minka Wolman, a former journalist. Together they left Australia in 1951 for what was originally planned to be a short trip to Europe. They were to remain abroad for the next 17 years. After spending time in London they settled in Reigate, Surrey, and had two English born daughters.
Veal quickly gained a reputation on the international art scene, presenting his first London exhibition in 1952 in the Piccadilly Gallery (where he held annual exhibitions until 1959). He became a regular contributor to the international art magazine The Artist and he also worked as an occasional teacher, lecturer and art critic. As a prominent expatriate of Australia, Veal was elected President of the Australian Artists Association, London, in 1953. The following year saw the publication of English and American editions of his book ‘Impressionist Painting.’
Owing to his vast travels and international reputation, Veal exhibited in several cities around the world. As previously mentioned, his first solo exhibition was held in Melbourne in 1937, followed by exhibitions in Sydney, Brisbane, South Australia and London. Veal’s first of many solo shows in America was held in 1962 in New York. Three years later, in 1965, Rome was the city of his first solo show in Europe.
Veal described his work as “perceptual impressionism,” replacing conceptual knowledge about “things” with perceptual knowledge about the subject’s tones, colours and shapes. Veal worked mainly in the genres of landscapes and portraiture, with his last portrait depicting fellow artist Rolf Harris. Hayward Veal returned to Sydney in 1968 for his first major Australian exhibition. Tragically, he died in the same week as the exhibition opening.
The art of Hayward Veal is represented in several prominent collections in Australia and overseas, including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane; Geelong Art Gallery, Geelong; Museum and Art Gallery, Newport, Monmouthshire, UK; Oxford University, Oxford, UK; University of Kansas Museum of Art, Kansas, USA and Brownsville Museum, Brownsville, USA.