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From fast-paced comedy to slow-lane art

Going Out

ON SHOW ‘Hillside Near Waterville’, an oil on canvas (8” x 8”), by Seán Hardie.

Ciara Moynihan

‘Slowly Going Home’, an exhibition of work by Sean Hardie, an artist and writer based in Co Kilkenny, opened last Thursday in the Custom House Studios Gallery, Westport. The exhibition features small oil paintings, mostly landscapes, some figurative and some more abstract.  
Born in Northumberland in l947, Hardie cut his teeth in the media world with BBC. He initially worked on current affairs programmes Panorama and Newsnight, but by l979, he moved to to the world that he was to inhabit for many years to come: comedy. He started out co-creating and co-producing ‘Not The Nine O’clock News’ and was soon writing and directing for Spitting Image.
Other well-known TV shows that benefited from Hardie’s input include Bremner Bird and Fortune,  The State We’re In and The Lenny Henry Show. During his career, he’s also worked with and written for a host of famous comedians, including John Cleese, Billy Connolly, Prunella Scales, Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Clive Anderson, Paul Whitehouse and Angus Deayton.
After a spell as Head Of Entertainment for BBC Scotland, he moved to Ireland in the mid ’80s to concentrate on writing, and went on to publish three novels, ‘The Last Supper’ ‘Right Connections’ and ‘Till The Fat Lady Sings’, as well as six stage plays.
Ten years ago, Hardie turned his hand to painting, and soon discovered a new creative passion – and a new outlook.
“I used to take a lot of photos – I carried them home, stuck them in albums or boxes.  More recently I dumped them onto a hard drive – and there they stayed. I rarely if ever looked at them. I realised I had turned into a camera. Click click click. And another. And another,” Hardie explains. “I started to paint. Painting, in this impatient age, is a disarmingly slow, messy [and] very physical business – it’s like meandering down back roads when you could easily and more efficiently take the motorway.
“But it’s taught me, I hope, to stop and look, and look, and look again  in wonder at these ancient landscapes that we spend our distracted lives rushing through.”
The paintings in ‘Slowly Going Home’ take in a range of rural locations in Ireland, from Achill to the Iveragh peninsular in Co Kerry, as well as Kilkenny, where the artist lives on ‘a hillside looking out across the Barrow Valley to the Blackstairs mountains’, with his wife, poet and novelist Kerry Hardie.
The show’s title comes from  Kerry Hardie’s poem ‘Sixty’, from ‘The Ash And The Oak And The Wild Cherry Tree’ (Gallery Press).

‘Slowly Going Home’ continues at the Custom House Gallery Studios until September 24. Sean Hardie will give a galley talk about his work as writer and painter on Culture Night, September 22, at the gallery. For more on the Custom House Studio’s Culture Night events, see Local Notes, Page 3.

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