Jo Hardy

Jo Hardy, Jo Who, Jo McNeill, Doris

With the death of Jo Hardy the Whangarei art community has lost their kuia and matriarch. Jo was huge presence in the local arts community since relocating to Northland in the 1970s. She participated in many group and solo exhibitions. A painterly conduit of the human condition, she covered topics from feminism to politics and portraits. Jo developed a universal language in paint defiant of any borders and traversed that terrain with fearless talent. From the Tangihua Ranges to the Holy Road Cones, Jo painted what she saw and felt in magic realist style.

Jo underlined a freedom of consciousness; she reacted to the mundane realities of our day to day living, painting petrol stations and Primecare patients with flair. Her art is a glorious mix of color and composition. Self trained in acrylic paint, with excellent drawing skills her work developed into a mature and deliberate style, covering nearly 50 years.

Jo forged ahead despite obstacles, and in her own opinionated, feisty way. Right up to her death she continued to share her energy and knowledge. Her last work, a reflective multi portrait identified stages of her life from childhood to a woman facing mortality.
Jo was also a writer and word smith, and once again offered a different perspective and observation on a variety of topics. In her last newspaper column she described her journey into illness under the pseudonym ‘Doris.’

Jo left an incredible legacy. She encouraged and mentored younger artists, and it was her personality and openness that brought us to her, asking questions and seeking an alternative to the mainstream. If unable to provide a practical explanation she would develop a fantastic theory. She championed the underdog. Her work is evidence art can provide passion for existence and passion for critical thinking. Colorful difference was never sidelined by mediocrity, it was a constant she carried with her. Jo Hardy’s practice is proof that art based cultural growth in New Zealand has gained momentum. She was an outsider who offered an honest and valuable vision to outsider lives and outsider art. She painted the world magically, its parallels curious and surprising in nature. She had many friend’s and peer’s who deeply respected her and will miss her.

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