‘He discovered magnificence and color in all places’: celebrating the lifetime of Nicholas Harding | Portray

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Nicholas Harding has died.

The most cancers they thought they’d crushed returned to take him the opposite day on the age of 66. We misplaced man and delightful painter whose work is liked.

He might paint a stretch of bush or an umbrella within the sand and make you assume you have been seeing them for the primary time. He did magnificence with absolute bravado. Considered one of his flame bushes in full bloom is a stunning sight. However then he painted a patch of railway tracks that takes your breath away.

Nicholas Harding is standing of his painting of a man swimming in blue water wearing a bucket hat. Harding is wearing a black shirt and has his arms crossed
Nicholas Harding gained the 2005 individuals’s selection award on the Archibald prize for his portrait of Bob Dickerson. {Photograph}: The Sydney Morning Herald/Fairfax Media/Getty Photographs

These tracks are on the high of his road in Sydney. The individuals who dwell round right here do all they will to maintain them out of sight till an artist comes alongside to make us look by way of his eyes and see how stunning it’s: the tracks, the fences and within the distance the hulking presence of Central station.

This was Harding’s technique to work years in the past when he was a educating himself to color. He turned a painter’s eye on the journey. “I used to be discovering a language. I used to be discovering the district and its color. I used to be planting my flag.”

He got here to Australia as a younger child, lived on the sting of the bush in Sydney, deserted college, labored for some time in promoting and skilled as an animator. Footrot Flats and Blinky Invoice are someplace down deep in his resumé.

A man stands in the corner of a gallery looking at a painting of an older woman with grey hair and a blue shirt. On the opposite corner is a portrait of a man
A member of the general public views an oil on linen portray by Harding titled ‘Margaret Whitlam’. {Photograph}: Sergio Dionisio/Getty Photographs

He was at all times decided to color. He started to win little prizes. A supplier paid him to desert animation. And he met Lynne Watkins, his invincible spouse. That they had a son, Sam.

From the beginning, his work was stunning if somewhat gloomy. He confessed to being cautious of color in these days. “I feared an excessive amount of would flip a portray into fruit salad.” However the solar broke by way of, he mentioned. “They begin to write their very own songs.”

Portrait of Peter Weiss AO oil on linen
Nicholas Harding’s portrait of Peter Weiss AO was an Archibald prize finalist. {Photograph}: Nick Kreisler/AGNSW

He at all times got here again to drawing. In enormous ink on paper works he put his stamp on the seashores of the far north coast of New South Wales. He turned the grasp of the pandanus, discovering countless magnificence in these shabby bushes. Caravan parks turned pure Nicholas Harding.

He at all times celebrated magnificence. He gained this 12 months’s Wynne prize on the Artwork Gallery of New South Wales with Eora, a stunning four-metre panorama of the bush. Among the many entries for the Archibald prize hanging within the rooms subsequent door there was, in fact, a portrait by Nicholas Harding.

Nicholas Harding stands at a podium in an art gallery, a sign on the podium says Archibald, Wynne & Sulman Prizes 2022
Nicholas Harding being awarded the $50,000 Wynne prize for one of the best panorama portray of Australian in Might. {Photograph}: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Photographs
A drawing of a lush green bush including pandanus
Nicholas Harding’s Wynne prize-winning work, Eora. {Photograph}: AGNSW

His faces have been hung within the Archibald almost yearly. He had a gradual eye for character. He gained in 2001 with a haunting portrait of the actor John Bell. Like a lot of his work, the wonder and thriller in these faces over time got here with a hint of menace.

Remedy failed him. He fought a gallant battle. His work survives him. So does his method of taking a look at his nation – askance, at occasions, however discovering magnificence and color in all places.

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