Hardwick’s work is landscape based and looks at strange wilderness zones, including both natural and man-made. His paintings both play with, and subvert, traditional ideas of romantic landscape painting and the sublime. The images look at edge-land zones around big industrial ports, such as large-scale car storage compounds, redundant factories and polluted waste lands.
His work also looks at the more poetic wilderness zones like those of Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. However, these are also polluted with reminders of the contemporary influence on the landscape. Roads predominate in crossing the moor, a narrow road is etched into an otherwise massive moorland triptych, likewise a real car radiator sits in the painting’s distant barrow. Toy cars, seemingly in their hundreds, form an image of a car storage compound at Royal Portbury Dock.
Layered landscapes are also a theme in Hardwick’s work. In terms of texture the paintings are heavily layered with different types of paint, plaster, plastics, soils, pigments, roofing felt, hay and other unconventional materials. To this rich surface relevant artefacts are often added, creating reminders or triggering memories intrinsic to a particular landscape.
The idea of creating layers in the landscape is partly a result of the artist’s childhood, during which his family’s farm was first sliced in half by the M5 motorway and then again by the Royal Portbury Dock. The land once filled with sheep has become a pure edge-land wilderness with detritus of the developments now filling the land.
All of Hardwick’s work makes reference to ideas of change, memory, history and emotion. Often the landscape’s story and journey is purposely unclear. Yet, redolent throughout his work is the notion that we are but another layer in time.