Open Hands is an exhibition by Caraboo Projects Brb… mentee Jack Hardy.
Text by Martyn Cross – Caraboo Brb… Mentor
I first met Jack Hardy at a Painters Meet in the Hillgrove Porter Stores pub in Bristol, some time in early 2020. It might have even been late 2019. I guess the date doesn’t really matter, and anyway, I have a terrible memory. What matters is that when I met him I felt a presence, a warmth and a stillness. It shone through. When I bumped into him some weeks later at a private view at Centrespace Gallery, that inner shine was there again, only this time it had a determination about it. It was the determination and spirit that comes from someone who is on a path – a trajectory – to a place only they can reach, through particular movements of their own body through space and time.
When Caraboo Projects asked me to be a mentor for their brb mentoring scheme over the lockdown of 2020, I already knew Jack would be my mentee. Not because I had secret intel from the selection panel – it was just something I had felt in my gut. A connection had been forged from those two brief meetings as if there was energy on a string between us. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I felt it. That same energy is there in Jack’s paintings and drawings. You know what he’s seeing and you know what he’s saying. There’s also a charming sense of naivety about what he creates which stems from his lack of formal training, and this is a good thing. There’s no dead weight. It’s fresh and it’s raw and it’s simple. It’s direct. No flab. The poetry he weaves with the words he introduces to a canvas are beautifully serene. He’s in a certain place and it’s the same place as you, if only you’d stop and look around. Even with some of his energetic mark-making there’s a calmness about their existence which suggests the author is in contemplation about his role in their creation. He’s finding his way in the world and he wants you to come with him.
Soak it up.