This month we visited the studio of painter, Kerry Harding. Based at Krowji Studios, Kerry paints mesmerising landscapes with a focus on process and paint as the hero. She also teaches regularly at St Ives School of Painting.
Q. When did you first start painting and has your style changed over the years and since moving to Cornwall?
A. It was always something that came naturally as a child and like many others an inspiring school teacher is the reason I applied to do a fine art degree which led on to me being lucky enough to succeed at this professionally. When I was living in London I used lots of bright colours in my work, and I’ve definitely found my palette has become gradually more bleached out since moving out of London and living in Cape Town and Cornwall. I do wonder if that’s partly to do with the extreme coastal weather patterns of both places.
Q. How does your typical Friday look?
A. Usually with a run along the north Cornwall coast near my home in St Agnes, then straight to the studio for breakfast while I consider the week’s work. Friday is when the good things normally happen and everything comes together after the ups and downs of the week!
Friday is when the good things normally happen and everything comes together after the ups and downs of the week!
Q. You’re also a skilled tutor. How often are you at St Ives School of Painting and do you find it feeds into your practice in any way?
A. I run courses on average every six weeks and have found it invaluable to the development of my own work. I often find myself telling a student something I need to hear myself, as the saying goes ‘practice what you preach’!
Q. What sort of clothes do you prefer to wear when you’re in the studio, and teaching?
A. I’m quite a physical painter so comfort is key, and with this physicality and oil paint comes mess so this is a big consideration. With teaching I’m told I can be quite expressive and I do like to be able to move around the studio with ease to see what everyone is doing, so again comfortable layers work well.
Q. The marks and surface texture of your paintings are really interesting, especially when you can see them in person and up close, they really make you wonder how they were made. Can you tell us a bit about the materials and tools you use?
A. How paint can be changed to produce a wide range of marks and techniques has always been a driving interest in my work. I use oil paint and quite a few non-conventional tools. I work in many layers and then rub or sand away these layers to reveal some of the history of the painting hidden underneath. Old paintings are sanded back using an electric sander, paint-strippers, or even unstretched and reversed to use the stains and marks from the back. I repeat the process of adding and working back until the instinctive moment I know it’s finished.
I repeat the process of adding and working back until the instinctive moment I know it’s finished.
Q. Which other artists do you like/have you been influenced or inspired by?
A. A quick fire list of Antonio Tapies, Gerhard Ritchter, Fiona Rae and Peter Doig…
Q. You’ve exhibited and travelled all over the world, but what is it about Cornwall that has drawn you here, where is your favourite part of the coastline/ do you find most rich for inspiration and are you here to stay?
A. There are very few places in the world that are this beautiful and offer such an amazing quality of life and such a vibrant art scene.
The physicality of the Cornish landscape, how it has become what it is through a constant elemental cycle of adding and taking away, is the perfect subject for how I like to use paint. The north coast is undoubtedly my favourite part of the Cornish coast, fully exposed to the weather fronts and the expansive Atlantic beyond. All the scenes in my work are within a mile of St Agnes, what I find most interesting is how the landscapes we see every day change and stay in your mind.
What I find most interesting is how the landscapes we see every day change and stay in your mind.
Kerry is wearing her Arts Club Shirt and Sailor Shirt in our photos. Shop Kerry’s look and browse all Seasalt studiowear.