Claire Hardman

G’day; Being a sheep grazier in the Strzelecki Ranges, Victoria Australia, is an exercise in bloody-mindedness.  Many would say that we’re living the dream and I guess we are.  It is beautiful here, surrounded by rainforest, fresh air and acres of blue sky.
To relax I do stuff; everything from computer graphics, textile art, sculpting, etching, individualising reading spectacles, painting (watercolour and gouache), illustrating, portraits and caricatures of locals, wine making, curing meats, and anything else that takes my fancy.
A couple of months ago, needing an egg cup, I became frustrated at the lack of imaginative egg cups available.  Eventually it all became too much for me and I decided to make my own - gargoyle egg cups were born.
I am still busy with sheep, replanting ‘The Bush’, commissioned art and graphics work, learning Klingon (weird woman), learning free form rock climbing (some would say that farming here is the same thing), flying RC helicopters and exploring new and interesting things.
I word of warning; I have an irrepressible and sometimes wicked sense of humour.

Chocolate Yum! 130mm x 130mm (unframed). Ink and gouache on heavily textured rag paper.
This is one in a series of caricatures of me I did for a small exhibition.  They were happily accepted and displayed by the organising committee, however, after the exhibition had closed they reminded me that the theme had been small and nude.  In retrospect my oversight was probably due to a deep-seated lack of interest in exposing my privates in public -  I’ll blame my parents (chuckle). I am asked to do caricatures on a regular basis now which I put down to a lot of very good humoured people living in the bush who are happy in their own skins and enjoy a good laugh.

Baring Their Soles 900mm x 460mm (framed).  Hand quilted and dyed silk (sold)
Never having worked with textiles before this was a challenge.  The feet are those of my long suffering husband, mine, and those of two friends who  were not nimble enough to escape my grasp. I rather feel that feet are a neglected part of our anatomy. The challenge was not only to reproduce form but texture and movement. The silk fabric and quilting provided the texture of soles while the foot prints in the background portray the motion.  The piece was entered in an exhibition with a textile/nudity theme and to my surprise, was sold on the opening night.  I’ve not done a very good job of photographing it but I hope you get the general idea.

Casanova 550mm x 510mm (framed).  Ink and watercolour on archival quality matte.
I wanted to capture the cockiness of the vertically challenged bantam poultry breed. They’re rather like terriers who think they are Rottweilers.  The bantam ladies are very matronly looking like ones old Aunt Betty and only lack aprons; very cute.  The local agricultural fair/show provided many worthy subjects for this series.

Fighting Cock 550mm x 510mm (framed).  Ink on archival quality matte.
My interest with this series (fifteen in all) of poultry is in the style rather than the subject matter. Although the image of the rooster puffed up with self importance has endless possibilities. I’ve always admired the stylised forms of the aboriginal artists of North America, Canada, and Asia and found that chooks display the style better than my beloved ducks.

Cat Blossom 160mm x 130mm (unframed). Graphite pencil and gouache on heavily textured rag paper.
I have often admired the works of artists who are able to reproduce the lushness of a fur coat in oils or other pigment media. I have had to content myself with graphite pencil in this series but the use of heavily textured rag paper gave the images an interesting dimension. Cats are my favourite pet along with guineapigs who remind me of the Star Trek Tribble with their intoxicating cooing and passive nature … cute as.

Cat Rollo 140mm x 180mm (unframed). Graphite pencil and gouache on heavily textured rag paper.
This series (eight in all) was inspired by a love of cats.  Many of these works     are based on photographs sourced from the net but each in the series bare an uncanny resemblance to fury friends passed and present.  Finding my own style for reproducing fur was a challenge.  When I finally found my way the process became quite meditative.

Commodore, Dollar Yacht Club 520mm x 550mm (framed) Graphite pencil on watercolour paper.
As you may have already guessed there is nothing at Dollar but rainforest and farms.  The annual regatta is held on a neighbour’s dam. The Commodore is also affectionately known as The Mayor of Dollar. Should you ever plan to visit Dollar have no fear of getting lost; it would have to be the most heavily sign-posted place in the entire State of Victoria.  The catch is that there is only an Australia Post mail box there, so don’t  blink or you’ll miss your chance to see a most unremarkable bit of geography.  Having said that, the locals are unique gems.

Rage 480mm x 430mm (framed) Acrylic on rag paper.
This is a series of eight works exploring flora and the art deco and abstract styles.  We have an extensive garden here that leans heavily toward permaculture and self-sufficiency.  Most things are edible but I do allow myself some indulgences such as orchids, rhododendrons and dahlias.  There is not much between our home and God so the sun shines intensely when it’s out and colours are vibrant.  I find the art deco style suits the brilliance of my subjects, and my nature is splash bold colours around.

Dahlia Three panels, each 700mm x 1400mm (unframed) Acrylic on canvas.
As you can see this is another of my bold splashes of colour.  I find I’m getting a bit tired of the trend here in Australia toward homes with a décor in the tapioca range – bland!  I wanted something that could be used as a focal point, a splash that says: ‘Here I am!’

KOI 640mm x 530mm (framed) Ink on archival quality matte
Don’t you just love Koi.  We can’t keep them in this State but goldfish are interesting and relaxing too.  Just looking at them makes you want to just …..ZZZzzzzzzzzz.  WHAT! WHO! Sorry, I must have dozed off for a second there.  In this work I have tried to keep the style simple and in keeping with the Asian reverence for clarity and form.

Egg Cups - Fang Height: 90mm. Baked polymer clay and pigment dyes.
The series just keeps on expanding.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for a cute fang.  Fang is a work in progress but is in keeping with my desire to produce egg cups with character. I rather felt that some children may have lingering phobias if I didn’t tone down some of the more spooky looking gargoyles. As a result, each gargoyle in the series is unique with some looking decidedly friendlier than others.  They are a lot of fun to make and keep manage to keep your focus on your egg rather than the newspaper or laptop in the morning.

Egg Cups – Nose Hair Height: 90mm. Baked polymer clay and pigment dyes.
This is a finished egg cup. The hairy nose and ears comes with complements from one of our black sheep and finishes of the whole look, don’t you think? I have been looking at the door knobs in our house and thinking they could use some character too – my next project I feel.

Snow Ducks 640mm x 540mm (framed) Derwent watercolour pencils and gouache on rag paper.
This is Darrell and his girls relaxing in the heavy snow of August 2005.   Ducks are my favourite poultry.  Ducks are sweet natured, hilariously funny, endlessly amusing and American Pekins lay luscious eggs like demons.  To watch them in the snow is side-splitting. As I may have mentioned before, we farm on very steep slopes and in the snow of 2005 the ducks took to tobogganing like ducks to, well, water.

Blackberry 320mm x 47mm (framed). Pen and ink on pink archival quality matte.
Farmers have a love/hate relationship with blackberries. On the one hand they are anxious weed with nasty thorns that never give up. And then there is that luscious fruit.  Here I have tried to show the ruthlessness of the thorns, the tangled mass that is the noxious weed and the pain you must endure to overcome both to get to that delicious berry.

Contact Claire Hardman

I’m working on a web site but in the meantime, you can see more of my work and that of other local artists at Stockyard Gallery,
or email me at

Commenting is closed.

We hope you like this article!
Please help us grow by sharing:

Get Updates In Your Inbox

Free weekly emails, plus get access
to subscriber-only prizes.

We won't share your email. You can cancel at any time.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Claire Hardman"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window
neat stories? Like us on Facebook!
Close: I already like you guys!