IMAGES OF CYCLISTS: LOUISE HARDY, ARTIST
“Flying, that is what it felt like. That is what I tried to convey in these paintings.” That is Louise Hardy’s overwhelming impression of riding a bike. So, the London-based artist created a series of paintings of cyclists - all entitled Flying. No, the cyclists are not the heroes and heroines of the pro-circuit, they are images of cycling portraying the emotions that cycling brought. Steve Dyster spoke to Louise about the images and how they came about.
“Sometimes you just have to allow things to happen in art,” said Louise, “I think I rely a bit on accidents. You have to get outside your comfort zone.” Sounds like painting is a bit like cycling, but, more pertinently, Louise points out that whilst her series of cycling paintings is fundamentally “Happy” and the inspiration for it certainly took her outside her own zone of comfort.
She continued, “I had bought a secondhand racing bike and I became obsessed with cycling.” Louise had “probably” not ridden a bike since her art college days, so this was very much beyond the border of the familiar.
“Following a significant birthday, I wanted to do something new, so started learning to cycle properly, with a proper trainer. I took on swimming and running, too, but it was cycling that really caught my imagination,” said Louise. “There was this feeling of flying, of personal freedom. Cycling alone was like being in my own studio …. you will know the feeling - where you can just do what you want to do.
After her first, and probably last, triathlon, Louise was commissioned by her trainer to create a piece of art for his fitness studio. Having done that, she went on to produce a series of paintings on the theme of cycling, expressing those wonderful emotions she had felt whilst out on her bike. All are in saturated ink on recycled board. Suiting perfectly Louise’s desire to explore form with bright colours, and her interest in textures, there is a mixture of elation, motion and joy but with a touch of grit - pleasure on a bike may have to be paid for in sweat and hard work.
The cycling images followed a period of time when Louise’s creations were much darker. A look around her website gallery, reveals a gamut of emotions; a fascination with urban landscapes, especially along the River Thames; figures swimming or falling or tumbling; figures cocooned in death - sadly inspired by images of gassed Syrian children.
On display at Old Street’s renowned cycling cafe, “Look Mum No Hands!” the cycling paintings sparked conversation. “We do lots of big rides out of here at weekends,” came encouragement from the assembled couriers and London cyclists. They’d found out that Louise had barely been on her bike since. Her reason? “Getting in to oil-painting, a new thing for me. but I hope to get back on the bike properly again - you just have to do it, don’t you.”