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Alien Life in a Globular Cluster
For the original Challenge of the Stars Hardy had painted an earthlike planet, with mountains and a lake but a sky filled with the older, reddish stars of a globular cluster. But it was felt that it should be more 'alien', so he painted the version seen here. He postulated oxygen-filled sacs floating in an ocean and forming 'rafts'; when these mature they become free-floating, carried by the winds of a CO2 atmosphere.
In Galactic Tours (1981) Hardy and Shaw described a 'gateway' or portal leading to another world. Beyond that can be seen another portal, and through that another. . . This one is in partial ruins, but clearly still working. (Gouache.)
Hall of the Mountain Grill
When Hawkwind visited Hardy's home (before a gig at the Birmingham Odeon) to discuss a record cover, their manager Douglas Smith saw the original version of Hardy's globular cluster for Challenge of the Stars, and asked if it could be used. Because it was in portrait format Hardy said he would have to repaint it, square, but that was no problem. So this became the back cover for Hall of the Mountain Grill (1974) – regarded by many fans as one of their best albums. (Acrylics.)
Portals to Infinity
In 2011 a lover of Hardy's work who had always liked the Galactic Tours 'portal' illustration wanted to buy the original. Since it was from 1981 it was sold long ago, so he asked if something similar could be painted. The result was the large painting seen here: not just one gateway but five! Again, one of these is ruined, but not working (it begs a story). It was even reproduced in the Chinese magazine Fantasy Art: Best Artwork of 2011. (Private collection of R. Haynes)
In January 2011 a German fan asked if it would be possible to put this scene into an environment like that on the back of Hall of the Mountain Grill? Hardy's first reaction was that it probably wouldn't work, but having put both paintings into Photoshop and played around with light, colour and angles, he came up with this – to the delight of the buyer, who asked for a large giclée. (Digital, from acrylic originals.)
Mountain Grill 2015
The sun's light now comes from behind us, illuminating the mountain and giving the moon a phase close to full, its dark side still silhouetted against the background stars. The planet is at the edge of the globular cluster, so as we look towards the centre there are thousands of bright stars visible, but behind us the sky is dark It is 40 years later, and the trees have grown, as has the city. Atelier Acrylics, 20 x 20in (50 x 50cm).
In 1981 Hardy worked with SF author Bob Shaw to produce Galactic Tours – a sort of interstellar travel brochure. This included a painting of a 'portal' or gateway, leading to different worlds. In 1974 Hawkwind used a Hardy back cover on Hall of the Mountain Grill; there is a very interesting report here. These pieces came together in a most unusual way. . .
To see more, click on the first thumbnail below. February 2015: The latest addition to this saga has now been completed: a SF fan who is also a big fan of Hawkwind commissioned a painting based on the original album cover – but in a different season. Hardy picked on winter, and here is the result (final image).
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