Jack Hardwicke started taking photographs in 2011 and found a freedom and comfort in the creative processes that he had always struggled to find before. A year later, he became Artspace’s “Next Artspace Artist”, and his vibrant abstract work caught The Creators Project’s attention. Using creativity as a cure for his own mental fragilities, Brighton-based photographer communicates a personal struggle between both his own anxiety and a deep appreciation for everything bleak, beautiful, and incomprehensible. A year after his first feature on Artchipel, Jack sat down to chat with us about his story, creative process and future projects.
Artchipel: How has the photography initially captured your attention, as opposed to another outlet?
Jack Hardwicke: I feel quite substantially removed from the person I was when this, for want of a better word, ‘journey’ began. Digital photography appealed to me straight away because it’s such an immediate medium. I was too impatient for film, too imprecise to draw, not determined enough to play instruments, what I do now just kind of happened out of a need to do something and express things that I have always internalised. Photography leads me to the way I work now.
A: How would you describe your work and what are you trying to express?
JH: I think my work is fairly varied, even if it may not appear as such to everybody else. What I’m creating can be altered quite dramatically by my state of mind and the style of work can shift from one project or idea to the next. In that sense it is quite hard to describe - abstract is certainly an easy answer, but I’m not a big fan of categorising art. I think aesthetics is at the absolute core of everything that I try to do – the most important aspect for me no matter what is that something looks great.
I guess one of the prevailing themes in my work is an anxious struggle. My work is often very personal and one of the reasons I started making art, and certainly one of reasons I don’t intend to stop, is the therapeutic nature of creativity. Life is an extremely complicated and incomprehensibly dark phenomenon but inside of that is so much beauty and hope and I guess that notion completely envelops my own thoughts and is therefore manifested in anything I create. I don’t know if that is what I am trying to express as such but I’m not sure how much art should ‘try’ to do anything. It is what it is.
A: How would you describe your creative process and how did you come to develop your aesthetic?
JH: I try to be flexible. I’ve never had any kind of schooling in art, so compositional traits are completely innate. Technically there are things I can do but there’s a million things I can’t. In that sense I try to work within myself and expand outwards. When I start working on a piece or a project, what results is rarely what I expected. I try not to think about things too much and to trust my instincts. If something looks right expand on it, if it doesn’t then change it.
One of the beautiful things about art is that there is no right and wrong - so much of my life is spent questioning things but when I am creating there’s a much greater freedom inside my mind, it’s far easier to trust my intuition where the consequences are simply a visual reflection of something. It’s nice if that produces something that other people an enjoy, but it matters to me more that I like it.
A: The idea of using images to create an illusion and a unique perspective is what drives lot of your work. How do you feel about the way your work has progressed?
JH: I think what’s interesting about art is the ability to create something completely otherworldly and to be able to do that in an almost infinite number of ways, including the most underwhelming practices. I guess one of the goals for myself as an artist is to try and turn the mundane into something extraordinary. I don’t like to give too much away, but you would be amazed at what you can create with a dirty saucepan or dusty window pane for instance. When I started taking photographs I loved the idea of being outdoors and finding interesting spaces, but I came to realise that there’s a huge limitation in relying on environments and places as your external sources - if you use your imagination then you can try to make anything and everything beautiful.
A: What has been your biggest challenge or strongest memory to date as an Artist?
JH: It might sound self involved or cliche but every day is a struggle – I think that’s how life is probably supposed to be. It is a huge blessing to be able to make things, and it’s one that I try not to take for granted – I try to appreciate how lucky I am in life, to be driven by creativity and to have the time and resources to pursue that is an amazing piece of fortune.
I saw an interview (I think it was with the musician Grimes) a few weeks ago where she basically describes everybody as an artist in waiting, the only difference is between those who pursue it and those who don’t. I kind of agree with that idea, and I think that’s once you become one of those who go for it, you open yourself up to people and to criticisms and self doubt more so than in most walks of life. That in itself is a challenge. It is also a gamble to stake what you are and what you have on something which is totally subjective. I constantly question myself and what I make, but I also have a lot of conviction in what I am doing, and what I am trying to do, however I might live my whole life being the only one who feels that way about my work. Then the challenge is to stay true to yourself in the face of that.
A: Could you name 3 living artists that inspire you the most?
JH: Atelier Oslchinsky & Mark McGuire & Wes Anderson. They’re too many to chose from. These are just three that came to mind quickly and inspire me a great deal. I would recommend their work to anybody and everybody.
A: Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
JH: I’m fascinated by what can be done whilst sleeping and I’m sure like millions of people before me, it feels like I seem to be at my most inspired when i’m asleep. More specifically I’ve tried to develop my skills as a lucid dreamer, not so much over the past 6 months but before that I had got to a pretty good level and was able to stay fairly lucid. The series ‘A Lucid Space’ was directly inspired by my initial amazement at the lucid experience and it has continued to inspire a lot of the aesthetics that I aim to work towards. If anybody is interested in finding out more about lucid dreaming I highly recommend Stephen LaBerge’s book ‘Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming’.
A: What are your plans for the coming year?
JH: I’m very excited about 2014. I have a number of projects on the go that I would like to finish and then exhibit. I am art directing a number of awesome musical releases and working with some amazingly talented producers, vocalists and musicians which is something that excites me immensely. My collaborative project SLEEP/WALK with my buddy SnowSkull (aka Matthew Evans) will be really switching gears this year and we have lots of stuff planned so watch this space. I’ve got a few more things up my sleeve but they’re safer up their for now.
Thanks for the questions, big up Rery & Artchipel – I’ve come across so many talented artists through the site it’s nice to be featured in the same space as all those before and after me. Happy New Year, Merry Xmas, etc.