Mahoney’s interest in formal gardens and plants such as auriculas and old roses ‚Äì all deeply unfashionable at the time
‚Äì is typical of the originality and independence of his vision. His unbridled enthusiasm for plants was shared with
Edward Bawden, Geoffrey Rhoades, John Nash and Evelyn Dunbar, with whom he swapped cuttings by post. The
correspondence between this circle is full of exchanges about the discovery, nurturing and drawing of new potential
subjects. Mahoney’s plant studies are so remarkably complete in their own right that it is barely possible to attempt to
mark a line between botanical study and still life. The two became one and the same; and although some of his
compositions were clearly arranged, they rarely appear contrived.
Mahoney bought the best quality materials, often from Lechertier Barbe, in Jermyn Street. He prepared boards and
canvases for painting with much care, using special recipes. In his own words: ‚ÄúThe practical lesson to be learned is
that ground and underpainting always have some effect on the final painting, even when it is not apparent, and that
pictures must be carefully built up with this point in mind.‚Äù His oil paints were artist’s colours, which he applied with
Hogshair and Sable brushes. He made extensive notes on pigments so that he was familiar with the chemical
properties of each colour. For his mural schemes he mixed his oil paints with wax, applied to canvas that had been
fixed to the wall before painting commenced. His favourite frames were purchased in the 50s and 60s from Robert
Savage of South Kensington. These were beautifully made from a wide choice of mouldings and colourways.