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The Hardie Family

James Hardie, Amy Hardie, Gwen Hardie

Skin over Bone celebrated the work of former Glasgow School of Art graduate and teacher James Hardie and his talented daughters - artist Gwen and film-maker Amy.

The exhibition title comes from the book “Stone Voices” by Neal Ascherson. Jane Cameron, University Art Curator, explains: “Ascherson was investigating Scottish identity through history and landscape. The search for true identity is a theme which runs through the exhibition, showcasing the work of three very distinct Scottish artists, united by their close family connection, so we felt the title to be very appropriate".

The bone under the skin of Scotland’s landscape is explored by the work of James Hardie – now in his 70s. He has worked in film and paint since he graduated from Glasgow School of Art in 1959. His work includes portraits of family members and his love of flying, showing Scotland from the air. Hardie and his late wife Ann settled in Fetternear in rural Aberdeenshire, inspiring their daughters to become artists in their own right. They lived in a former school house where outbuildings became a painting, sculpture and pottery arts space, doubling as a playground and games hall. The young girls remember rushing their tea to follow their parents into the studio to work and create art.

Hardie now lives in Skelmorlie, near Largs, in the west of Scotland. See his work here

Gwen Hardie (born 1962) is based in New York. She was the youngest living artist to be given a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, she has paintings on display in major collections in Edinburgh, London, Lisbon and New York. (See her work here).

Gwen Hardie takes a more literal look at ‘skin over bone’ – focusing on the landscape of the female body. There’s fragility about her work which takes us beyond the surface of the female form. The artist’s website reveals: “Gwen Hardie's work engages with figuration and the act of perception. She first gained attention with her large scale tightly cropped portraits of women. Her magnifications of skin lit by natural light resemble light effects in the landscape and micro/macro views of cells/earth.”

Jan Patience, writing in the Herald newspaper, described Gwen’s work as “jewel-like ruminations on mankind’s place on a swiftly turning planet” and the New York Sun praised her for her “ethereal, near abstract figurative paintings”.

Last year Gwen Hardie exhibited in Edinburgh at the Royal Scottish Academy’s Annual Exhibition. The Times said at the time: “Hardies’s continuing exploration of the female body, not as a sexual object, but as a textured and flawed surface, contributes greatly to the show.”

The third family member on show is Amy Hardie (born in 1958), who lives near Peebles in the Scottish Borders. She expresses her ideas through film and was film-maker in residence at Strathcarron Hospice, near Denny, in 2012. (Find out more at Four excerpts, shot at the hospice, were screened as part of the exhibition.

The Edge of Dreaming, her first feature-length film, charts how Amy dreamt about the death of her horse, only to wake and find her horse dead. She then dreamt that she would die aged 48. She filmed the year leading up to her 48th birthday, and the worries she had about her own mortality. Thankfully, she survived – but the film is a powerful glimpse into her family life and her search for answers about the provenance of dreams.

The New York Times described The Edge of Dreaming as a “serious metaphysical quest” and the Guardian said the film was “mesmerizing”. It was also voted Best of the Fest at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in 2010 and won the main critics’ award at the Kiev International Film Festival the same year.

While Amy’s work bears no immediate link to that of her sister and father, there is, at a deeper level, the familiar Hardie concern with reality underneath everyday surfaces – of the land, of the human body and human mind.

A catalogue, with introductory essay by Dr. Lindsay Blair, was produced to accompany the exhibition. It is on sale in the Pathfoot Crush Hall for £1 or order online Back to Previous Exhibitions .
More details from the Art Collection staff:
Tel: 01786 466050

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