Vale Matthew Harding 1964 – 2018

Matthew Harding was a true gentleman artisan. A man of extraordinary talent and skill, consumed with curiosity and an abundance of empathy. It seemed that he could turn his hand to any material and make it sing. He was fascinated by all forms of spirituality and belief and aimed to express them through his shimmering, organic forms. Often crafted from the heaviest materials, wood or metal, everything he sculpted resulted in a sense of lightness and the ethereal.


It was only four years ago that Matthew won the prestigious $100,000 McClelland Award for sculpture at McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery. Judge Dr Liz Kreijn, Assistant Director Collection and Presentation at the Kr?ller-M?ller Museum in the Netherlands, described his winning work, Void, as “a monumental work that looks very light and fragile against the weight of the surrounding Australian bush.” Rendered in stainless steel, Void  made use of a poetic spiral shape. In 2017, perhaps his busiest year, he completed sculptures in Miami, Florida, Singapore, Victoria, Sydney, Canberra and Bathurst.


But there was nothing pretentious about Matthew. He was a knock-about guy who gained his first qualifications as a carpentry and joinery apprentice in 1983. His second was an art certificate in 1985, both in Newcastle, and he gained first-class honours in a BA from the then Canberra School of Art in 1995. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1998 to develop his practice.


He was also an adventurer. He spent time in Italy, carving marble with the artisani of Pietrasanta and then in Bavaria where he worked in wood. In 1980 he travelled to the Sepik River, PNG and to Rotorua in NZ. In 1993 he travelled to Zimbabwe and then to Cambodia. Intended as a simple holiday to visit the temples and ruins of the Khmer empire, instead he became involved with the carving department of the University of Phnom Penh.


Team MARS send their thoughts and condolences to Matthew’s partner Freya Maclaren and their four young children. He will be a sadly missed member of the MARS family. 


– Ashley Crawford, 2018

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