The Independent, Hannah Duguid —2015
A seamless carpet in pure cyan flows through elegant Georgian rooms and up a staircase. The shade is vibrantly man made like a digital print out and it becomes the backdrop to a large structure made from wooden panels and balanced on builders’ breeze blocks. It’s like a shed without windows and it sits oddly within the grand proportions of a high-ceilinged room. A noise comes from inside, bangs and echoes, a sound like something being ripped.
Rudimentary steps made of more breeze blocks and plywood lead to what might be the outline of a door, which opens. It’s dark inside, and lines of light pierce the gloom from circles like bullet holes in the walls. A single bulb glows weakly in the raw interior, and the noise gets louder. It sounds like it might be waves, a gentle swoosh back and forth, but it’s impossible to identify.
Later it’s pointed out that these sounds are not random but recordings from when the structure was being made. The interior’s not spooky, just a bit uncomfortable with hard edges and a triangular wooden bench installed at an odd angle to the wall so that it’s difficult to sit straight.
Anne Hardy used to destroy the structures that she made. They were built in her studio, photographed then discarded. The final images showed complex and colourful environments that felt like the aftermath of something—although what was never clear. They appeared vaguely like theatrical sets but remained objects, never becoming anything beyond sculpture. Things might appear haphazard—she incorporates items she finds on the streets—but she is rigorously formal in her approach, and uses colour and light to sculpt and shape her environments, which used to be looked at but now they can be explored, and inhabited for a while. She makes tough demands on herself as an artist—this exhibition was built in the gallery, specifically for this space, and she installed herself here for weeks to get it all done.
Downstairs, bits of cement block stacked on the cyan carpet are topped off with three green balloons. A sculpture lays across the entrance hall, it’s in the way like a huge dog sprawled out on the carpet, compelling to look at and awkward to navigate around, The entrance leads into the downstairs room which is smaller than upstairs, but filled with a sculpture of the exact same volume as upstairs. It resembles a blue sandwich on breeze blocks filled with industrial odds and ends, a fan blows air that ripples through a mound of tape. Strip lights hang at angles along with cement shapes, wooden frames and stacked up concrete blocks. It’s like a house taken to bits and rearranged as sculpture.
Hardy achieves a degree of magic with her installation, which is very difficult to do. Plenty of solipsistic installation artists out there tediously filing objects together with results that never quite work. Hardy’s installations possess a complexity and pleasure that put her in a class of her own.