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Hardyware: The Art of David A. Hardy
Paper Tiger hardcover £20
review by Christopher Geary
This career-spanning retro of British space and SF artist David Hardy's work features an impressive range of material, including two-page colour spreads, explanatory captions and a main text written by Chris Morgan condensed from his interviews with the artist.
Keen on both art and science at school, and influenced by the pioneering work of Chesley Bonestell, the talented Hardy narrowly missed a chance to work on Kubrick's 2001 film. However, his almost inevitable success was assured after, just like Bonestell's debut, Hardy's first major exhibition appeared at a planetarium. Since then Hardy's standing in both astronomy and genre communities has grown to the point where he's now one of the most well known and respected specialist illustrators in the world today.
In nearly 50 years as a professional artist, he's done over 50 covers for The Magazine Of Fantasy & Science Fiction, starting in 1971. For one of these, Hardy devised an amusing place for the barcode - placed in the foreground of his picture on a rubbish heap! He has contributed illustrations to Gerry Anderson's TV Century 21 comics, produced some excellent book jackets for novels (by Clarke, Verne, van Vogt, McCaffrey), collaborated on various scientific publishing projects with Patrick Moore, designed packaging for chocolate boxes, created speculative space tourism visuals for a travel agency, and done album sleeves for the likes of Hawkwind. Although he's worked in acrylics, gouache, pastels, inks and oils, with an airbrush, and more recently in digital format, Hardy states that he prefers the hands on approach, partly because this results in an original piece - whereas work done solely on the computer can only exist as a print.
Rare among artists, Hardy is also a writer, and the author of several educational volumes for children, and has indulged his fascination with volcanoes in artwork for The Fires Within - reportedly an often misunderstood book depicting geological upheaval rather more vividly than any photographs could. This interest alone accounts for the startling degree of realism in genre works such as 'Eruption on Io' (p.92/3), and 'Geyser in Triton' (p.102/3). Another traveller's hobby which Hardy pursues is the Solar eclipse, and his own observation of these events has inspired an entirely different series of evocative images. Hardyware also displays some of the production paintings (sadly unused by the filmmakers) for fantasy movie The Never-ending Story, and a few pieces of concept art done for an abandoned film project called 'Silverworld'.
Except for scenes of violence in nature (including comet impacts) and many superbly composed spaceship pictures, Hardy tends to focus on contemplative scenarios rather than dynamic SF action. Although his human figures are usually static and poised, the mixture of powerfully directed machines and swooping aircraft (even UFOs!) are always perfectly integrated into their backgrounds, whether readily identifiable landscapes in our Solar system, some entirely imaginary alien world, or the black void between scattered stars. Among Hardy's best-loved creations is the blobby green alien known as Bhen. This bug-eyed yet endearing ET appears in Martian and Lunar settings often toying with real-life machinery like the Viking Lander and the Apollo rover. Thankfully, these are not viewed as an affront to the serious American space programme, and have turned out to be popular with the folks at NASA.
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