Published on 18 April 2020

We thought we would, during this difficult period of lockdown, bring you a little cheer by allowing you to get to know some of our fabulous artists better. It is indeed our wish to try and continue supporting our artists and inspire you, our community of visitors, customers and friends even though our doors on Coldstream High Street are currently shut.

So, how more fitting than letting you in on our series of online chats, inviting you to connect more deeply with the person behind the wonderful works we are privileged to display at the White Fox Gallery?

Our “chats” will be published once a week, starting today, with the next one planned for 25th April.

The participating artists (not everyone could join) have also been asked to produce a small artwork each during this confinement period; the idea being that we will celebrate the reopening of our doors and the return to life with  a short exhibition of these small works (each to be priced at £100 or less) – and a party! But more of this closer to the time.

So, we are delighted to now LAUNCH our first chat, kicking off this week with 

A Country Stroll
with Sheila Anderson Hardy

Sheila, Hi,  

I’m missing seeing you already but hope you are well and keeping safe. Just to inform our friends out there, could you say a few words about yourself?
I was born in a small village in Galloway, Portpatrick.
As a child, I remember being left to my own devices much of the time, exploring the countryside and beaches around my home with drawing and painting becoming my hobby, then becoming my passion.
 After secondary school, and despite strong objections from my parents, I applied to and was accepted by Glasgow School of Art, (My father sadly died while I was in my second year, having never reconciled himself with my attendance at “that den of iniquity.” It’s a bitter thing to carry your parent’s disapproval and, looking back, it certainly affected me. Therefore, I have striven always to support my own children in their choices.)
At that time,  the most vibrant department at GSA was Printed Textiles, so I chose that to be my specialisation, graduating in 1978.
From there, I ‘migrated’ to London, worked as a textile colourist, then illustrator, with a stint in the music industry working as a fashion stylist. Having gained a teaching qualification, I combined part-time art tutoring with painting. My first open house exhibition in 1991 was a sell-out. No looking back after that! I was a painter!   After many more years living and working in London, raising our 2 lovely daughters, we made the Scottish Borders our home. 

Apart from the time you spend as a professional artist, do you also have other occupation, such as part time lecturer/tutor?
I am a full time artist, but also run occasional Art workshops for adults. I’m also a part/time sessional Family Learning tutor for SBC Community Learning and Development.

Where do you work? Do you have a studio/workshop? Tell us a little about this special place.
I draw and paint in my studio, which is a converted outbuilding exactly 15 steps from my back door. I have a wood burner to keep cosy during the cold winter months.
There is a view from my window, over a barley field right across to Penniel Heugh, and the Waterloo Monument. I often find myself gazing out, and yesterday I spotted 2 red legged partridges and a solitary hare in the newly ploughed field. Pairs of birds are now darting in and out of the hedge, which is gradually taking on the acid green of spring foliage.

How has the lockdown affected your time in the studio/workshop?
The lockdown really hasn’t affected my schedules in the studio too much. Business as usual with fewer distractions!!! Planned exhibitions are put back or hang in the balance depending on restrictions.   Of course I ache to see my family and friends, but we are all doing what we can….and this will pass. 

Describe a “typical” approach to your work practice

I aim to get out to my studio before 10am, light my stove, plan my day’s work, take my spaniel  for a walk, ( it’s good to have that time in the open air,  to clear the head, observe what is going on and  then get down to work)…….. Copious amounts of tea are drunk throughout the day and before I know it, it’s gone 6.30pm.  About that time…  a G&T before dinner … Bliss!

Are you a “must have total silence” kind of creative person, or do you listen to music whilst working?  What is your fave music you like to work to?
 I tend to have the radio tuned to radio 4; alternatively I listen to an eclectic mix of jazz, classical and pop. My current fave is a vintage CD of Nina Simone. What a talent!

What is the main subject of your inspiration? 
The ever changing beauty of the countryside which surrounds me is my inspiration and muse. I am a passionate conservationist and feel an affinity with the wild corridors, the verges and hedgerows.
I aim to convey a sense of wonder at the elegance and beauty in these every-day, often overlooked forms.

What medium and techniques do you use to translate your creative ideas? Tell us a little about your creative process.
I might use Sumi-e ink, or charcoal to create monochrome studies of hedgerow plants, observing the Japanese tradition of depicting just the essence of the subject.
On the other hand, in an oil on canvas or watercolour, I may try to tell a story celebrating a moment observed or felt.
I tend to work on several pieces at once, turning from one painting to another till I feel a work is complete.

NB (My “ Sanctuary “ drawing, which is currently displayed for sale at The White Fox Gallery – see below –, has also been accepted for the SGFA Annual Exhibition at The Mall Gallery which is scheduled for the first week of July 2020. Though who knows whether/how that will happen?!)

Sanctuary, graphite and charcoal – 145cm x 109cm framed

Looking at the history of art in the Western World at least, where would you place yourself, spirit and style wise? 
I would call myself a figurative (magical) colourist, basing my work on close observational drawing of natural forms.(…That’s a tough one  Virginie!!)

Well, there’s an easier one this time: some people have ‘studio pets’. Do you have one? What’s their ‘contribution’ to your creativity?
I don’t have a studio pet as such, but, as mentioned before, I do have a lovely spaniel which I take for a walk every morning . She is my companion then, as I am getting ready for the day ahead. 
What is your favourite pastime? Has the pandemic impacted on your ability to enjoy this?

We are so lucky to have a large garden which we like to keep as a haven for wild life, so it has its “weedy untidy areas, piles of logs and branches and unmown grass.”
Gardening is still my favourite pastime and with spring in the air and extra time on our hands we have planted up seed trays with the intention of filling the beds with flowers and the veg plot and greenhouse with food. A day in the garden certainly chases the lock down blues away!

Can you while away the hours with a “good book”? or do you need to do something more active.  Any particular title you would recommend as a “must read once in a lifetime”?
Books… The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, Love in The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marques and Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks spring to mind. I also love the writings of John Lewis Stempel, a country man, farmer, conservationist and writer of books celebrating nature and traditional agricultural methods. Lyrical and lovely prose by a truly knowledgeable writer.

What about films? What is your favourite film of all?
 When it comes to favourite films…… old school, I’m afraid! It’s a Wonderful Life, Casablanca, Some Like it Hot top the list.

Tell us of one of the most beautiful or happy moments in your life?
A wonderful, unforgettable memory: my second daughter was born suddenly at home one hot June day, 30 years ago, safely delivered by my husband Terry because the midwife had been delayed.

Who is up there in your esteem in terms of artistic excellence? What is/are your favourite artist(s)?
I would cite David Hockney as my top living artist. I don’t like everything he does but in terms of his vast oeuvre, artistic spirit, his determination and continual innovation, he never fails to cheer and inspire me. As a GSA graduate, the late Joan Eardley has to be mentioned, her Catterline landscapes are extraordinary. I also hugely admire Turner, and most of the impressionists, especially Monet.

Daybreak, oil on profile canvas – 80cm x 64cm framed

Any pet hate? – we all have one, it’s OK to say it.
Pet hate… Despicable world leaders (mainly men) who propagate nationalism/racism/sexism/hatred and selfishness, deny climate change and seek to divide. The world will never heal and move on while such individuals hold sway. I also can’t stand beetroot!

As a painter, do you have a favourite colour?
My favourite colour  :    50 Shades of Green, and there are many more!

It has been said that creatives are often great cooks as they know how to balance food colours, flavours, texture to create that perfect tastebuds experience, do you like cooking? What is your signature dish?
I have the great good fortune to be married to a wonderful man, now retired, who has taken up cooking as his main hobby. I therefore eat delicious food, dishes (mostly vegetarian) sourced from the recipes of Yotam Ottolenghi , Sabrina Ghayour, Nigel Slater and many more… a shelf in the kitchen groans from the weight of recipe books…… And, lucky me, I barely have to lift a saucepan any more…

What makes you laugh/cry?

My wonderful grandson fills me with joy and makes me laugh. I cry at examples of kindness and selflessness in others.

 What is your favourite tipple?
A glass of good red wine sitting by a real fire after a winters walk! Or a celebratory G&T at the end of a productive day in the studio!

What is your “naughty but nice” comfort?
As above.

 If you could travel, where would you go?
 I would tour Italy slowly.

Finally, going forward, what would you hope we could learn as society/humans from this pandemic. What is your message to the world?
I’m sure many people have learnt many lessons, my message: we must be kinder to one another, recognise our true heroes.
Nature has had a breathing space, pollution has plummeted and wildlife is thriving, let’s continue being careful!

THANK YOU so much SHEILA for sharing these thoughts with us.

I hope our readers would have enjoyed listening to you. I, personally, certainly feel I have gained a deeper understanding of both the artist as a person and of your wonderful artistic vision. Thank you.

Early Birds, oil on profile canvas – 60cm x 60cm, unframed

If you want to know more about the two new paintings shown in this email, or to simply see more of Sheila’s work, please CLICK HERE

And of course, feel free to send us any comments/questions at  CONTACT US

Thank you for reading and please do stay safe!

ps.: Our next episode of THE FULL PICTURE will be published on 25/04/2020

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