SF & Fantasy
Not really SF, but a vision of the future, this shows the ‘lived in’ interior of a lunar base; but the painting on the wall contrasts starkly with the bleak, monochrome moonscape outside. . . It’s the human element that interests Hardy here.
Superlative Science Fiction was a sort of spoof SF magazine cover, designed for a CD issued by the British National Space Centre (BNSC). The idea was that although it pretends to be a cover for an Astounding type of 'pulp' SF magazine, everything in the list of titles is now reality: Earth Observation, Communications via Orbit, etc. . . . (Gouache, for BNSC.)
War of the Worlds
One of Hardy's best-known SF images is probably this one – his interpretation of H.G.Wells' War of the Worlds, with Fighting Machines attacking the ironclad Thunderchild. This original, landscape-format version was done for the musical album, but due to a dispute was never used. It then appeared in New Challenge of the Stars, and in many other publications. (For the full story, see Hardyware!) (Acrylics; private collection of the late Bob Monkhouse.)
War of the Worlds 2
This vertical version of War of the Worlds was a private commission, but it has proved as popular as the original, especially as its format is better for covers etc. The most recent use is on the packaging of The Learning Channel's video in the 'Great Books' series (USA). (Acrylics; Private collection of J. Donald.)
A symbolic painting, one metre across, 'Neighbours' shows the Earth, Mars and Moon to scale, each with its appearance from space on the right and a 'typical' landscape scene on the left. Beyond that is our galaxy, the Milky Way, and its nearest neighbouring galaxy, M31 in Andromeda. (From the private collection of Ms Diana Piloyan, Mexico City.)
From Moon to Mars
Painted for a prestigious exhibition in London in 2000, this large acrylic painting shows, in the foreground, the two worlds on which man has set foot – one only briefly. A symbolic spaceship soars past them towards our next target – Mars – and beyond that is the whole Milky Way galaxy. (Private collection of R.Gandy)
In 2014 Hardy designed a new tie for the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) in 2014. Like this large painting, it symbolises Man's exploration of space, and encompasses two BIS design studies: a 1939 Moon rocket, and a 1970s unmanned starship, 'Daedalus'. It also includes the BIS logo of a symbolic spaceship and three stars. (Acrylics; Private collection of BIS.)
Encounter with T-Rex
In common with many other space artists, Hardy has a love of prehistory and, in particular, dinosaurs. This was originally a private commission entitled 'Out of the Fire. . .', in which a small Ornithomimus gets a nasty shock after climbing a steep cliff to avoid the lava flow below. . .
However, for the cover of Beyond SF magazine he added time-travelling tourists, digitally.
In 1970 Hardy began painting a scene on Titan, with a lake of liquid methane, when he thought "What if astronauts found a replica of our Sphinx at Gizeh here? The result was a large acrylic painting which was exhibited at the Portal Gallery in London at the time of the SciCon science fiction convention. It was in effect his first real SF work to be shown in public.
Skiing on Europa
Skiing on Europa was painted in 1981 for Galactic Tours, with SF author Bob Shaw. At that time no probes had visited Jupiter's moon Europa, and it was known only that it is icy (it has a high albedo: reflectivity of light). The Voyager and then Galileo probes have shown that its surface is actually like a cracked billiard ball, but Hardy was able to show spectacular ski jumps. This painting was also used as an example of airbrush techniques in The Airbrush Book. (Gouache.)
One of the many paintings for Galactic Tours: the Stratus Hotel is "a 4km-high hotel on Marius V, seen against the planet's famous green skies". At dawn and dusk the bluish rays of its sun strike through at a lower angle. Because of the ferocious jungle access to the hotel is only by hovercar, hence the landing pads. The birdlike creatures, known as 'jewelheads' have multifaceted eyes to watch in all directions for predators and prey. (Gouache.)
Also for Galactic Tours: the inhabitants of Pharonia built 'flying cities' to cope with a population explosion. But the polar caps began to melt, causing a rise in sea-level, so they had to build more aerial cities. Then it was found that it was the antigravity fields themselves that were causing this 'global warming'. . . (a lesson to us all?) (Gouache.)
Hardy liked the idea of juxtaposing a primitive sailing ship with a huge, burning spaceship (see 'Shooting Star' in Covers) so much that when he worked with Bob Shaw on Galactic Tours (1981) he revisited the idea, but this time with alien boats made out of the shells of giant creatures, and sails made of huge leaves. The inhabitants are harvesting luminous 'sea pearls'. (Gouache.)
Although decidedly a fantasy painting, this was done for Hardy's book with Dr. John Murray, The Fires Within (see Volcanoes). It shows the legendary island of Atlantis which sank beneath the waves after a volcanic eruption. The most likely factual site for this is the Greek island of Santoriini, which Hardy has visited.
'Metal Planet' was painted in 1974 as a personal project (possibly inspired by Trantor in Asimov's Foundation), but it foreshadowed the Death Star in Star Wars. it appeared on the cover of the US Future Magazine, and also on the cover of Science Fiction Monthly. (Gouache)
Metal Planet II
In 1979, when Hardy worked on the paintings for Galactic Tours – finally published in 1981 – he revisited the idea of a lonely planet entirely covered by a gigantic city, blazing with light. This one is also right outside the galactic spiral, in the dark realm of globular clusters. (Gouache)
Return of the Colonies
'Return of the Colonies', painted in 1981 (gouache) for the anthology 'Space 7', does not illustrate a specific story but comes from the artist's imagination. It is perhaps typical of SF illustration from that period.
Rio 5 Billion AD
Sometimes Hardy is asked to create a painting which has personal significance only for the person who commissions it. This was the case here; he was asked if he could paint a scene showing Rio de Janeiro with the famous statue of Cristo Redemptor in the foreground – but in the year 5 billion AD (assuming Rio still to exist then), when our Sun has swollen into a Red Giant. An interesting challenge, and Hardy saw no reason not to accept it, with the result you see here. (Acrylics.)
To film the space scenes in Blake's 7, Mat Irvine used front axial projection, a technique first perfected in 2001: A Space Odyssey – the camera and background projector are in line and the background is projected onto a 'Scotchlite' reflective screen, so there are no shadows. (Gouache.)
Blake's 7- 2
In 1979 Hardy was asked by Mat Irvine, who was working for the BBC on Special Effects, to produce the space backgrounds for the second series of Blake's 7 (the planets in the first season were models, and decidedly lumpy!). So the Liberator was seen passing in front of or approaching various backgrounds painted by Hardy – here a Jupiter-like planet and its moon. (Gouache.)
UFO Book Jacket
A jacket for a proposed book on UFOs, not published. (Digital)
Kenneth Arnold '47
The sighting in 1947 of nine objects, 'flat and shaped like pie dishes' flashing in the sunlight over the Cascade Mountains in Washington State led to the term 'flying saucers'. They were reported by the pilot of a light aircraft, Kenneth Arnold, who said they moved 'like a saucer would if you skipped it across water. (Gouache, 1980. for Space Voyager magazine.)
After Kenneth Arnold's sighting, UFOs were reported all over the world. Also in 1947 the inhabitants of Roswell, New Mexico, saw one struck by lightning. Material fell from it onto the sheep farm of a rancher called Brazel. The local Army Air Base issued a statement saying that alien bodies had been found; but later claimed it was merely a weather balloon. (Gouache, for Space Voyager magazine.)
These paintings were made for a book intended to be a sequel to New Challenge of the Stars (1978). But the text would be written not by Patrick Moore (who is violently against UFOs; Hardy is by no means a 'believer' but is interested from an artistic point of view!) but by writer and poet Chris Morgan, who lives conveniently close for collaboration. This one is a UFO explanation of the prophet Ezekiel's biblical vision of 'wheels within wheels'. The 'crystal sky' is of course a mothership. . .
Another famous 'encounter' is that of logger Travis Walton, who claimed that on 5 November 1975 he was abducted by aliens who shot him with a 'ray' from a flying saucer. He disappeared, and was found five days later. The other 5 loggers in the van corroborated his story, saying that when the beam struck he 'rose a foot into the air'. Later claims were made that it was all a fabrication, despite poygraph tests that seemed to show Walton was not lying.
Another 'personal' commission came from a man who had a wonderful 'vintage' juke box, and wanted a painting of it in a space setting. Hardy has always been a keen fan of rock music (he even has a Strat, which he tries to play when the mood takes him), so this was a job he was only to happy to accept! (Acrylics; private collection of the late A. Hughes.)
Mountain of Mystery
Normally, in daylight, the pyramid cut from a mountain is blank and pure white. But on just one night each year an ultra-violet source — a neutron star – rises in the night sky, and the face of the pyramid shows a map of the solar system, its position in the galaxy, and the orbits of the two moons of this planet, Ortygia,
When given the opportunity, Hardy loves to paint planets with 'atmosphere' – not just the physical kind, but the weird, alien feel that can be essential for SF art. Mistworld was painted just for pleasure, but he later used the same world and its huge moon when he was commissioned to paint what became 'Portals to Infinity' (see Portals), which has become his most popular piece in recent years. (Acrylics.)
In 1970, after the publication of his fine art print, Stellar Radiance, 'AstroArt' was registered as a business name. Adverts were placed in astronomical magazines – and also music papers – for the print and also for 35mm slide-sets (this resulted in several rock bands using them, as mentioned earlier). But the owner of Asker's Motel, near Dorchester, bought onen then commissioned an 8 x 24ft (2.4 x 7.3m) mural.At top is the small grid that he produced first. (Acrylics, black emulsion.
Stars' End 2
A most unusual commission came from two SF fans living near Ely, Cambridgeshire. They wanted an alien spacecraft in their garden, and a painting to go with it. Hardy designed the spaceship, which needed to 'look organic', and it was made up in fibreglass, with lights inside. In the photograph it is standing in a pond – the crater in which the ship crashed, but it has been set upright; even a fuel leak can be seen. . . (See Stars' End in News & Archive section.)
Stars' End 1
. . . Along with the alien spaceship design, they wanted a painting which explained the scenario. The ship had engine trouble near Earth and crash-landed, ploughing a trench, near a circle of standing stones. A solar eclipse was taking place at the time, and this is shown as a 'time-lapse' in its various stages. The crater it made later filled with water, becoming a pond, and the ship was raised upright. Hardy also designed a number of 'peripherals' to this, some of which have yet to be added.
Daleks in London
In 1975 Target Books commisioned a cover from Hardy – Dr Who: The Dalek Invasion of Earth. He says he never saw the English edition, but does have the German one: Dr Who Kampf um die Erde. The story is by Terrance Dicks, and of course the cover shows Daleks invading London, with Westminster in the background. (Gouache.)
Tardis in Space
An unusual Dr Who commission came in 2011, when a big fan of the series asked Hardy to paint a scene of his choice actually onto the blank page of a book. He has The Target Book – an A4-size compilation of all the Target Dr Who covers, and knowing of Hardy's cover and that he is a space artist, asked for the Tardis to be shown in space. Many other artists have also added their own contribution, and there are some excellent renditions of the various Doctors, Hardy says. (Acrylics, 2011)
Dave Hardy regularly attends SF conventions. In the 1970s his friend, fellow fan Rog Peyton commented that "Dave's rocks look like marshmallows". Hardy pointed out that this was only when he was painting the Moon, because the Apollo photos show its mountains to be eroded and rounded. So by way of revenge he painted this scene, with the sharpest rocks he could, and titled it 'Marshmallow Moon?'. Ironically it proved to highly successful and has been much reproduced; usually retitled 'Lift-off'.
In 1982 the film company Neue Konstantin Produktions asked Hardy to work at their studios in Munich in order to paint concept art for their new film The Neverending Story. Here are two of his pieces of production art: the boy hero Atreyu at the Sphinx Gate where intruders can be turned to stone, and Falkor, the 'luck dragon' crashing down into the ruined city while attempting to rescue Atreyu from the werewolf, Gmork. (Gouache.)
Another movie project came up in 1983. US musician Kenny Young, best known for hits like 'Under the Boardwalk' had a script for a film, Silverworld. It was set on a future Earth, with huge cities but also jungles, and the people divided between those who used technology and those who live closer to nature. Hardy produced a number of designs, sketches and full-colour production art; here we see the Triadon, with a crystal central structure surrounded by geodesic domes. (Gouache)
Fall of Moondust
In 1994 Hardy produced a number of production paintings for a film version of Arthur C. Clarke's A Fall of Moondust. It was being produced by Mat Irvine, former BBC special affects wizard. Sadly, as so often happens with movies, it failed to raise enough money to go ahead. This is the scene where two 'dust skis' leave the shadow of lunar base Port Roris at dawn to find the area where the Selene has sunk in a sea of dust. (Gouache)
Global warming is now generally accepted as a reality, and when in 2008 Hardy was asked to illustrate a book on Natural Disasters, rising sea levels were of course on the menu. Here is his digital version of what could well happen in Venice, not too far in the future. . . (Digital)
A visit to Canyonlands, Utah for an IAAA workshop in 1989, and a side-trip to Goblin Valley, led to this painting (acrylics; a private commission). In the sky is a globular cluster – a spherical cluster of mainly old, reddish stars. Many of these orbit our Own Milky Way galaxy as 'satellites'.
Portals to Infinity
A private commission for a large painting in acrylics, this shows a group of partially ruined gates, each of which leads to another world, and beyond that is another, and another, ad infinitum. . . (Private collection of R.Haynes)
Difficult to categorise: SF or space art? Hardy's most recent commission, as of May 2012: a large painting in acrylics on stretched canvas, 1 metre (3ft 3ins) across. The brief: "A blue ice moon of a gas giant, with a derelict spaceship which shouldn't look like a spaceship at first glance." The orange-glowing porthole of hatch suggests that there could still be life on board; but is there? And what is the strange green glow in the cave on the left –? (Private collection of Mr P.Danssaert.)
'Alien SETI' (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence') was a private commission from the person who commisioned 'Ice Moon'. 90cm x 60cm, painted in acrylics on canvas, it shows a large radio telescope on the planet of a 'stray star' some 100,000 light-years above a huge spiral galaxy. A large moon is above. But what are the spectrally-coloured rings expanding from the base of the mountain? (Private collection of Mr. P. Danssaert.)
A big fan of Isaac Asimov's 'Foundation' series of novels asked Hardy to paint the planet Terminus, right on the outskirts of the Milky Way. Three lead character have cocktails on a balcony overlooking the city, but only their drinks remain here, while the smoke from a cigar blends with the galaxy. (Acrylics, private collection of Mr. N. Wallace.)
Hardy's friend the Romanian scientist and geologist Dr. Ydrah Adivad has been investigating a newly exposed bed of fossils near The Wren’s Nest in Dudley. He was amazed at the number of iron pyrite ammonites and a large trilobite in one rock, but when he saw what was revealed, firmly embedded in hard shale, as he scraped the mud off another section he simply did not believe his eyes. He said: “It’s like seeing a UFO – nobody will believe you!” Well that's his story! (Acrylics & texture paste)
BullRing on Mars
One of the more controversial buildings in the 'new Birmingham' (where Hardy lives) is the Bullring. It opened in September 2003 and, like Marmite, people seem to either love or hate it. Hardy likes it, but says that it would look more at place on Mars. He produced this digital piece to prove it, and it appeared on Midlands Today TV and in several local newspapers!
Olympic Roller Coaster
Another famous landmark to attract Hardy's attention (and sense of humour) is the 'sculpture' erected in London for the Olympic Games. What could be done to make the 22.7 million pound artwork, the 'ArcelorMittal Orbit', more than just an abstract piece of art? The twists and turns in the sculpture reminded him of the organic form of . . . yes, it could form the heart of a state-of-the-art roller coaster ride! (PS: Hardy, a roller coaster fan, is one of the riders here.) (Digital.)
In the 1970s Hardy worked with a number of rock groups, notably Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, the Moody Blues and Camel, to provide slides to project behind them for their 'light shows'. At that time a 'wheel' projector containing coloured oils and water was also often used by 'psychedelic groups'. Hardy painted a number of 360-degree landscapes which, when projected as a transparency, provided a moving background. This one is 'Prehistoric'; these are also ideal for Clocks – see Shop.
Ancient Mysteries Wheel
Another of Hardy's 'wheels' is this one: Ancient Mysteries. It was a particular favourite of Hawkwind, for whom Hardy also painted an album sleeve, for Hall of the Mountain Grill (see Portals). Also available as a Clock – see Shop.
Yet another effects 'wheel': Underwater. Again, this design is very suitable for a Clock face – see Shop.
Hardy has produced a number of hand-painted ties, and also, in 2014, a printed one for the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) which has proved extremely popular. He is happy to paint these to personal requirements, @ £40 postpaid in UK.
Although for many years he worked only as a space artist, in 1970 – just as fiction became fact and men walked on the Moon – Hardy started producing SF covers (in SF circles 'Sci-Fi' is used only for media such as movies and TV – though Hardy has worked on both, and enjoys many of them!). Here are just a few examples…