‘He discovered magnificence and color all over the place’: celebrating the lifetime of Nicholas Harding | David Marr

‘He discovered magnificence and color all over the place’: celebrating the lifetime of Nicholas Harding | David Marr

Nicholas Harding has died.

The most cancers they thought they’d overwhelmed returned to take him the opposite day on the age of 66. We misplaced a great man and exquisite painter whose work is beloved.

He may paint a stretch of bush or an umbrella within the sand and make you assume you had been seeing them for the primary time. He did magnificence with absolute bravado. One in every 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 received the 2005 folks’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 prime of his road in Sydney. The individuals who stay round right here do all they’ll to maintain them out of sight till an artist comes alongside to make us look by his eyes and see how lovely 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 educated 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 all the time decided to color. He started to win little prizes. A vendor paid him to desert animation. And he met Lynne Watkins, his invincible spouse. They’d a son, Sam.

From the beginning, his work was lovely if slightly 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, 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 all the time got here again to drawing. In big 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 limitless class in these shabby bushes. Caravan parks turned pure Nicholas Harding.

He all the time celebrated magnificence. He received this yr’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, after all, 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 the perfect 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 gentle eye for character. He received 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 his nation – askance, at instances, however discovering magnificence and color all over the place.

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