I can do it with your help, I can't do it alone. Raising funds to be able to go with my painting that was accepted by the SNBA in Paris and also further my series of 'Indestructible Women'. Which I hope, with your help, can travel from here in Ontario to my home of Newfoundland and Labrador. What ever you can give will help.
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CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 2010
CBC Radio Interview Nov 2010
Landing in Paris
Cover story by Holly Lake for Labrador Life Magazine Summer 2018
Angela Hardy’s partner, a fellow artist, was in the backyard of their St. Thomas home shovelling when the email they’d been hoping for appeared in her inbox. In a blink, she was outside in her housecoat.
“Congratulations. Welcome to the show...,” it read.
The show is the Salon des Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts (SNBA), in the Salles du Carrousel, an underground annex of the Louvre in Paris.
Hardy has been selected by a jury to exhibit there in December of this year, alongside 600 artists from around the globe. This is the 157th edition of the SNBA, which attracts more than 8,000 visitors and art collectors each year.
“There might have been some swearing. We were beside ourselves,” Hardy says with a laugh when she talks about getting the news. “It’s a pretty massive show.
“In my mind, as an artist you have this path you assume you’re on. You assume when you’re dead, you’re probably going to end up in some notable institutions, but you’re dead, so you’ll never know.”
In Paris, however, she’ll be very much alive to take it all in. She made her first visit to the world’s largest art museum in 2012, along with her mother, a painter, and several other Labrador artists.
“This is our Mecca,” she says. “It’s mind boggling beautiful.”
And showing in its shadow is a precursor to a whole other market of art. While Hardy has a large number of collectors of her work in North America, she hadn’t mentally made the leap across the pond.
“My brain had isolated it to Canada and the United States. That’s where I assumed the direction was going, who I was appealing to,” she says.
“Through this show, you’re introduced to the European market and another level that deals with collectors and other museums. It’s not even some- thing I’d thought of.”
Born in Carbonear, Newfoundland, Hardy was adopted and moved to Labrador as a young child. Her mom had always painted, but when she started her family, she packed her paints up and tucked them in her closest alongside incomplete paintings of her daughter and son.
It wasn’t long before her daughter discovered their hiding place, however.
“I would sneak in her closet and open the box.”
Hardy loved the feel of the brushes on her fingers and the sweet scent of linseed oil from the paints.
“It has such a beautiful smell to it. It turns out I’m actually allergic to it.”
Always keen to paint and draw, soon her mother taught her how to sew and make clothes. As a member of the Labrador West Visual Arts Association, her mother brought her along each week to the studio. At times, people were flown in to teach workshops - something Hardy has now been brought in to do herself.
Once she hit high school, Hardy’s mother started taking art lessons again. She took them as part of an after school program from the same instructor, Ed Owen, who was Hardy’s art teacher all through school.
As an arty kid, Hardy never really fit in. She loves the Big Land, but says the first 20 years of her life were spent growing up with a “narrow realm,” surrounded by “trees as thick as your arm if you’re lucky.”
As a mining community, Wabush had a way, a certain set. Women cared for their families and the thinking was that you marry a man from the mine or you might get a job as a secretary.
“It was only within my generation that women seemed to have a few more options,” she says.
“So the idea of doing art, in relation to growing up in Labrador, made you feel a little rebellious. But I got a lot of community support. People saw me doing something different and they encouraged me to go for it. Even now, everyone from home is a massive supporter of what I do.”
Hardy grew up with a learning disability, so academics were always a struggle, through high school, her time at the College of the North Atlantic and as she finished a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design.
Despite how hard she had to work, she never made a big deal of graduation ceremonies, as finishing a program at each just felt like finishing a course. It never felt like a destination in and of itself.
“In your heart, when you know there’s something bigger, I knew I hadn’t made it yet,” Hardy recalls. “I remember saying to friends, ‘It’s the day you have the big show.’ That said, I couldn’t visualize the big marker, the one where you know you have hit a whole other level...”
But she knew it was out there, and now it has come into clear focus.
“This makes me feel like I’m going to my graduation,” Hardy proclaims. “This is the upper category of the fine art world. It’s the place where people really take notice of not only what you paint, but what you have to say.”
And to be clear, she has plenty she wants to say.
The painting that was accepted by the Paris jury is the Periodic Motion of Venus. It’s of herself, partially nude, and they’ve asked her to complete a similar piece to exhibit.
“Some people look at it and see it for what it is, a beautiful imagery, a mirror reflection,” she says. “But everything that’s in that painting represents Venus, right down to the waves in the wall paper, the round motifs, the clam shells, the stars. It’s all symbology that relates to Venus.”
As an artist, appealing to a North American audience requires some self- censoring. Hardy admits she’s had to hold back a bit.
“Let’s just say European society is a little more open when it comes to the human figure.”
It’s something she’s ready to embrace as an expression of herself. She feels everything in her life has led to this moment.
“My goal has always been to create a body of work of the female form, using symbology to show how beautiful they are in any light, that the woman next door is a goddess,” Hardy says.
She has her own history with sexual abuse, but has chosen not to share the full details of what happened, as her parents are still alive.
“I don’t want to hurt them. They’re not involved. They’re aware, but the details are my own. I’m upfront about it happening,” Hardy says.
What happened to her obviously shaped her, and cultivated “a mindset of what you think is acceptable behaviour and that you’re not worth any more than that.”
Things are allowed to slip across the line, because “you don’t want to rock the boat. A few years ago, “stuff happened” and she ended up at a women’s shelter.
“I’ll be talking more about it in my painting.”
It’s among the reasons Venus is such an important painting for her. In some ways it marks the start of a new chapter in her own book, as she couldn’t tell someone else’s story without being upfront about her own.
“I didn’t feel like I had the right to paint any other woman, to tell them they are strong and have a right to their femininity unless I was willing to do it to myself first.
“My goal in painting this series is depicting women who have been through things,” Hardy says.
Capturing their pain, their heartache and their triumph, each will draw on a strong historical figure. Already she’s completed the photography for her first piece, which will become her renaissance depiction of a friend who is a lawyer.
“She is going to be Lady Justice,” Hardy says, noting she’s wearing a robe, with a human heart in one hand and a feather in the other - all representations of the judicial system.
“She is the scales, the weighing of justice. This is the point in history when we realize we have to allow the morality of women to enter the judicial system. Our government, our rules, our laws are all based off a masculine identity. There should be balance. I want to show that this woman; this is what her life is about. She not only fights for human rights, she fights for women’s rights.”
Drawing on her own experience, she’s aiming for at least 20 paintings - more than enough to feature in a show. Every woman she paints will be someone she’s come to know.
The last several years have brought ups and downs while finding her footing after her marriage ended, but they haven’t been for nothing. She’s ready to
live out loud about what she’s gone through, and is finding catharsis in that.
“You get clear about your purpose. It’s not just about painting pictures. There’s a servitude to it,” Hardy says, noting fine art has always carried a heavy message.
As her mother has always told her: “Be true to yourself, and all else will follow.” Over the years, she says it’s become her mantra and led her to care less about the opinions of others.
They’re not what ultimately matter.
“I have a right to have a voice in all of this. In my case it’s translated into paint. I also have the right to stand up on my soapbox for other people and how I want to do that,” Hardy says.
“I’ve been waiting a long time to do this. It’s both exhilarating and little bit scary.”
For more on Angela Hardy, visit https://www.angelahardyfineart.com/
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