Born 1954 in Southport, England, Gordon Hanley migrated by boat to Australia with his parents in May 1960. His childhood was marked by a largely migratory existence which saw him live variously in Melbourne, Brisbane, and Sydney, followed by eight years on a farm in rural Queensland. Winner of a Commonwealth University Scholarship, he attended the University of NSW and then the University of Queensland and holds a B.Sc., B.A. and Dip Ed.
During this time he worked as a builder's laborer on construction sites, worked in a gold refinery and as a scientific research assistant. He then served five years in the military. Following work as a teacher in Science, Mathematics, History, Art and English Literature he gradually built up an art career which was launched in 1990 at Kenmore Gallery, Brisbane with a solo exhibition of 40 watercolors which sold out in 45 minutes.
From early childhood, he displayed a talent for drawing and painting, but due to unfavorable economic and personal circumstances, he made a comparatively late start as a full-time artist. Following a second sell-out exhibition at Kenmore Gallery a year later, at 37 Hanley began life as a full-time artist. Over the next decade, he released over 50 prints in open and limited edition format - his high detail, narrative works making him one of the more recognizable artists in Australia. From 2000-2005 Hanley was Artist in residence at Queensland Museum and was a member of the Royal Queensland Watercolor Society.
Fascinated by the drawings of da Vinci, Raphael, and Michelangelo, since 2009 Hanley's art shifted from watercolor painting to drawings in the Renaissance medium of metal point. Moving from the more traditional silver on paper, most of his recent work features drawings in 24ct gold on paper with prepared grounds of his own design and development. Using continually evolving techniques, he has moved this ancient art form into previously unexplored territory, opening it up to new possibilities. His current work in this medium features still life, figure work, and portraits and he is now recognized as one of the world's leading artists in this medium.
Over the past five years, he has passed his knowledge on to hundreds of other artists in live demonstrations and has been the subject of a number of TV programs and magazine articles. His contribution to realist art was recognized by the Art Renewal Center who in April 2014 awarded him the status of "Living Master" (ARCLM).