In 'The Last of the Great Silence', Andrew Hardwick's fith solo exhibition with the gallery, the artist draws partial inspiration from a specifically intimate relationship with location. This deep rooted understanding is cultivated in no small part through his idiosyncratic heritage where the family farm adjoined the Bristol Channel and included a large acreage of tidal salt marshes in the Portishead area of Bristol. The farm was first sliced in half by the M5 motorway and then again by the Royal Portbury Dock. Hardwick’s personal landscape, as with many across the country and further afield, continues to experience dramatic transition. In a very literal sense Hardwick has witnessed his personal history and the intertwined landscape of his childhood, become fractured and buried, in his case beneath a colossal car park where the family sheep once roamed. Remaining land now mostly awaits development, with hedges gone, marker posts installed, given up by its more recent custodians. Much of this land is now so heavily polluted that it could not be used for crops, so sits, fenced off, awaiting. In this strange transient zone, nature begins to temporarily reclaim, yet the construction of new massive depot Warehouses continues to proliferate, obliterating further. This same area is infused by the estuarial light of the nearby brown sea, no doubt coloured by countless years of pollution from its industrial neighbours. This new world, as is its rapacious tendency, has swallowed up the old.
Hardwick paints these landscapes that he sees but also the one that he remembers. Etched with those long gone sheep who were once herded on the saltings and ships once witnessed, now rotting or scrapped. These ghost like paintings often depict these edge-land zones where other works draw inspiration from the more typically idyllic locations such as coast line and moorland. However, even these landscapes are filled with subtle reminders of human interference. This is a notion ever present throughout Hardwick’s paintings, where either the stark presence of the modern makes itself unambiguously known or where something deeply mournful lurks beneath a seemingly quiet, lyrical pastoralism.
Andrew Hardwick is a British landscape artist born in Bristol, England in 1961 where he still resides on a smallholding near Royal Portbury Docks. He is an elected Academician at the Royal West of England Academy and has featured in five solo exhibitions at Anima Mundi since 2011. Works have been exhibited extensively including numerous public shows most recently ‘Earth Digging Deep (British Art 1781-202) alongside Lamorna Birch, William Blake, John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, William Henry Hunt, Richard Long, John Martin, David Nash, John Nash, Paul Nash, Samuel Palmer, John Piper, Yinka Shonibare, Stanley Spencer, Graham Sutherland and J. M. W. Turner among others. Works can be found in collections worldwide.