The exhibition represents two years of returning to known landscapes. Like those of the estuary and coast around Portishead, where I work and grew up. Also that of the moors. Exmoor and Dartmoor especially, where as a regular visitor I return for solace.
These landscapes are personal, known, remembered yet at the same time, strange and always new, when revisited.
The landscapes are embedded in my personal history; their scars, both geological and historical are joined with mine and all washed over by the power of the elements and time.
Working in the studio, I try, with conglomerates of texture, to express something of these feelings. Oil paint, acrylic paint, earth pigments, ashes, glue, plastic, hay and other found or discarded material might find a place. Ever present in the image is the sky, which I find hard to deny.
In some images, ghost-like abandoned quarries, forgotten roads and railway tracks appear. They are explained in paint, matter and old toys. A plastic jet disturbs one painting of a seemingly tranquil vast moor. It is a modern world.
Increasingly my places are upset by walkers and new nature reserves. The walkers come from new housing estates that have sanitised and replaced the post-industrial wilderness that ran alongside the estuary.
Even the old burnt-out cars have now gone, swallowed up by the ground, their lives now joining those, of earlier and more ancient artefacts below. Helping on a local archaeological dig, I found in the medieval layer, clay pipes and pottery all infused with heating oil leaking from a nearby office.
It is a landscape of strangeness and contradiction. I like to contrast the the power of this coast and the moorland wilderness I visit, by including their car parks and roads that take people into their depths. Also to show a playfulness of the modern world by producing my images out of materials that perhaps could have been taken out of a skip.
As always when visiting old friends, there are certainties mixed with surprises. Love, regret, joy, fear, feelings of loss, and time now gone, but also of renewal and celebration.
Andrew Hardwick. 2015
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Andrew Hardwick is a British artist born in Bristol, England in 1961 where he still resides.
His often large scale, sedimentary paintings display his captivation with wilderness zones; both natural and man-made. Playing with and subverting traditional notions of romantic landscape painting and the sublime. The paintings often depict edge-land zones around big industrial conurbations or ports, such as large-scale car storage compounds, redundant factories and polluted waste lands. Other works draw inspiration from the more typically idyllic locations such as Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. However, these landscapes are also filled with reminders of human interference. Roads criss-cross the moor in deeply scratched lines, a narrow road is etched into an otherwise massive moorland triptych, likewise a real car radiator sits in the surface of a painting’s as if decaying and buried by the earth.
His medium of working is also atypical, paintings are heavily layered with different types of paint (often sourced from recycling centre), plaster, plastics, soils, pigments, roofing felt, hay and other unconventional materials. To this rich surface relevant artefacts are often added, creating reminders or triggering memories intrinsic to a particular landscape. The concept of layering in the landscape arrived partly a result of the artist’s childhood, during which his family’s farm was first sliced in half by the M5 motorway and then again by the Royal Portbury Dock. The land once filled with sheep has become a pure edge-land wilderness with detritus of the developments now filling the land. Hardwick’s entire oeuvre makes reference to concepts of change, memory, history and emotion. Ever redolent is the notion that we are but another layer in time.
Andrew Hardwick achieved an MA in Fine Art at the University of Wales. He is an elected Academician at the Royal West of England Academy. He has featured in four solo exhibitions at Anima-Mundi. Works have been exhibited extensively including numerous public shows and have been collected worldwide. Andrew Hardwick is represented by Anima-Mundi.