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Pandanus scrub, 2014

by Nicholas Harding

Pandanus scrub, 2014

Nicholas Harding, born in England, moved to Australia with his family in 1965, when he was eight. They came from a place where the landscape was benign and gentle; there were seasons; it was densely settled and had long been cultivated. His family often went to the beach on the south-east coast of England, around Eastbourne. It was sandy, not shingle, but when the tide went out it was a long walk to get wet. The water was still, palliated by breakwaters. In Bondi, a week or so after the family arrived in Australia, Harding took off his shoes to run across a grassy slope; it was his painful introduction to bindies. Soon, as he shyly haunted bushland and seashore, the boy Harding learned the appropriateness of the term ‘scrub’. In Australia the beach was hot and dangerous, people got caught in rips and drowned – not even the prime minister was safe. For some time, bereft, as he sees it now, of the sense of belonging, the immigrant child found refuge in drawing: a lot of Union Jacks, for a while. Over his ensuing decades in Australia, he’s become aware of drawing and painting to try and make sense of things that are mystifying; to try to find out how things function before he shuffles off this mortal coil. In subject and technique, his huge abraded ink drawings are central to this personal exploration.