The works in D Harding with Kate Harding

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The works in D Harding with Kate Harding

D Harding
Blue ground/dissociative 2017
Reckitt’s Blue and white ocher on linen
Private collection, Brisbane

D Harding grew up in the Queensland coal mining community of Moranbah – their father a miner and cattle farmer and their mother a skilled tradeswoman. They moved to Brisbane in 2004 and later attended the Queensland College of Art, where they completed their Doctor of Visual Arts in 2019 with a thesis entitled ‘The language of space’.

Harding’s painting and sculptural practices are driven by their deep connection to the experiences and history of their family – particularly their matrilineal heritage – and the important stories of what is now Carnarvon Gorge, a 32 kilometer canyon of sandstone cliffs and remnant rainforest that sits between the headwaters of several river systems in Queensland’s Central Highlands.

Reckitt’s Blue, a detergent developed in the mid-nineteenth century and used locally across the colonial frontier, also appears in this early period of Harding’s artwork. Made from powdered ultramarine and baking soda, this product was first used by the artist in 2015 as a pigment in reference to the domestic servant work carried out by their grandmother and great-grandmother under the auspices of the Queensland Government’s Act for the Protection and Restraint of the Sale of Opium, 1897.

While referring to modernist monochrome painting, Harding also describes Blue ground/dissociative as a performative work. By brushing Reckitt’s Blue onto the canvas, the artist echoed the involuntary actions of their female ancestors. The day after it was made, they returned to the canvas and marked its surface with a powerful splash of white ocher from their grandmother’s land at Carnarvon Gorge.

The resulting painting is charged, tactile and somewhat alchemical, capturing within its layers suggestions of other matter from the floor on which it was made. In meeting the meaningful labor of Reckitt’s Blue with this act of resistance, Harding rejects its oppressive symbolism and works to restore the agency and power of Country, both materially and metaphorically.

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