Kerry Harding is a painter whose semi-abstracted work is inspired by an everyday intimacy with the Cornish landscape. With a BA from the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford, a Masters in Fine Art Painting from Falmouth and an art career that has seen her shown in the UK, Australia, America and South Africa, Kerry is making her mark on the contemporary definition of landscape painting. In contrast to the traditional idea of landscape painting as a response to the sudden discovery of an inspirational view, Kerry’s paintings specifically define her long-term relationship with places and things.
‘My work is about noticing – and not noticing – the things I encounter every day. I have to see things again and again over a long period of time to bring them into my work.’ – Kerry Harding.
Those things, whose shapes are soaked into the surfaces of her canvases like ghostly photo negatives, are details synonymous with Cornwall – wind bent trees, yellow gorse, concrete beach steps, ploughed fields, blasted clifftops and the elegant, industrial silhouettes of aqueducts and bridges. Devoid of the prettiness some expect from landscape work, they nevertheless have an uncensored, blunt beauty that is more real, and therefore more appealing perhaps, to those of us with a love for the landscape of Cornwall as it really is.
‘My experience of landscape is mirrored in the way I paint’ says Kerry. ‘Old paintings are continuously revisited and reworked here in my studio. Finished canvases like these may have spent months, sometimes years as unfinished works. We have history, these paintings and me, these places and me. I work from memory and from photographs, and I paint, and then strip it all off again to leave only a shadow of what was there before. Then I will layer new applications of paint over the remaining marks, the paint stains and traces of past images, and repeat that process again and again. I enjoy the ‘hot and cold’ of it, the on and off, the random reworking of the canvas until the image becomes whole. I see it as a poetic balance of extremes – old and new, faint and bold, fast and slow. What I’m looking for is the richness of expression that comes from working a surface over and over again. A finished painting must have that history – those years of walking or running the same route through the landscape, reflected in the making and unmaking of the image.’
Her preoccupation with trees, the shapes of which appear throughout her work as stains, outlines or crisp, two dimensional forms, recently led to her membership of the acclaimed Arborealists group. This international group of fifty painters was founded in 2013 after the critical success of the exhibition Under the Green Wood : Picturing the British Tree, at St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, Hampshire, which presented a historical review of artists including celebrated nineteenth and twentieth century painters John Constable, Paul Nash and Paul Sanby, alongside work by contemporary artists, who have given trees, forests and woods special value in their work.
You can see all of Kerry’s work from this show here : http://www.beside-the-wave.co.uk/exhibitions/1142/kerry-harding-an-everyday-intimacy