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Brushing the Imagination
An Interview with David A Hardy and Sir Patrick Moore

conducted by Sandy Auden

David A Hardy
David A. Hardy, FBIS, FIAAA was the first artist on The Sky at Night in 1957, and has illustrated a large number of Patrick Moore's books, as well as appearing on the programme in person. He is a former President of the International Association of Astronomical Artists (IAAA), and has written and illustrated seven of his own books, as well as producing work for TV, the stage and book, record and magazine covers, both factual and science fiction. A book about his life and work, Hardyware, appeared in 2001 (Paper Tiger), and in 2003 his first novel, Aurora, was published by Cosmos Books.

Sir Patrick Moore
Sir Patrick Moore, OBE, FRS, has won a BAFTA Award for the longest-running TV series with the same presenter -- The Sky at Night. He is a prolific amateur observer and eclipse chaser, was involved with mapping the Moon for the Apollo missions and was a main commentator on the BBC's television transmissions of these He is the author of hundreds of books on astronomy and allied subjects. He celebrated his 80th birthday in 2003, when his autobiography, 80 Not Out, was published.

David A Hardy Website
ISFDB Bibliography

'Many people influence you,' writes science fiction author Stephen Baxter. 'But not many people change your life. David Hardy changed mine.' In his introduction to Hardyware, Baxter notes, 'In 1972, aged 14, I was already hooked on science fiction, immersed in Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, James Blish. And with Apollo still flying, I had grown up with real-life images of humans exploring other worlds. Soon, out of this supersaturated solution of influences, I would begin to attempt my own science fiction. But if there was one seed around which that crystal of ambition grew, it was probably a book by David Hardy -- Challenge of the Stars: A Forecast of the Future Exploration of the Universe.'

© David A Hardy
David A Hardy
Over his half century career, David A Hardy has influenced many people. His art has touched generations of genre fans, who saw his inspiring cover art on such notables as Arthur C. Clarke's Islands In The Sky, Jules Verne's From The Earth To The Moon, Fantasy And Science Fiction magazine and Interzone. And he's flexed his skills in a diverse number of projects outside of space art too, from adverts on baked bean tin labels, through Moody Blues and Pink Floyd rock albums, to dance hall walls. It needs a whole book like Hardyware to do justice to the full range of Hardy's art so, here, we'll just take a brief look at how it all started.

'I've drawn for as long as I can remember,' Hardy explains. 'An early SF/fantasy influence was copying pictures in Rupert books, and this went hand-in-hand with an interest in "things unusual." I can't offer an explanation for it; it's just that I was fascinated by photos in encyclopaedias -- and, later, films and TV -- of astronomical themes like the Moon's craters, and Saturn's rings. Then there was also volcanoes, thermal springs, geysers and bubbling mudpots, glaciers and icebergs and so on.'

This intensity stayed with him through school. 'I was equally into science and art, and about equally good at both. I must admit that it was often the more spectacular aspects of chemistry that attracted me: liquids that changed colour, crystals, explosions, sulphurous smells, clouds of smoke, brilliant flames. I went on to make my own fireworks and rockets, many of them good ones! I often think I could have been a pyro-technician.

'It never occurred to me in those early days that I would one day visit many of those scenes that so attracted me. As far as I was concerned, they might as well have been landscapes from other planets. So when I painted strange worlds, those scenes were always in my mind. It was just a natural development, therefore, that once I could afford to visit Iceland, Hawaii, Utah, the Galapagos, and old ruined cities like Machu Pichu or Chichin Itza, I did so. And, of course, it was all grist for the mill!'

In order to finance these trips to fantastic landscapes, Hardy needed to earn a living. His first break came in 1954. 'A friend went to visit Patrick Moore and took some of my paintings to show him. He asked me to illustrate his new book, Suns, Myths And Men. I had to do eight black and white scraperboard illustrations in five days, before I joined the RAF for National Service at age eighteen. That's been the story of my life ever since, really. I continued painting for Patrick while in the RAF, and when I came out I worked for Cadbury's near my home -- yes, doing chocolate boxes, it was good schooling -- and illustrating books like The Sky At Night, in my spare time.'

© Patrick Moore
Patrick Moore
It was a time that Sir Patrick Moore also recalls easily. 'I first met David Hardy many years ago,' he says. 'I was young, so he must have been very young indeed! We were brought together by a mutual friend, Michael Guest, who told me of a very brilliant young artist. I contacted him, and before long asked him to illustrate a book for me. He did the pictures, I did the text and it all worked very well indeed.'

'I saw at once that David has unique gifts,' Moore continues. 'As well as being a marvellous artist, he is also an astronomer in his own right, so that his observations and his impressions are totally accurate. Today, he is in a class of his own -- and I think he will remain so. There are various people who have influenced the course of events; David is be one of them. Will his visionary drawings come to be translated into fact? They may well be. Time will tell! I hope he will be on this earth for a long time yet, but his work will live on.'

(This interview first appeared on Sci Fi Channel Europe.)

Copyright © 2005 by Sandy Auden

Sandy Auden is currently working as an enthusiastic reviewer for SFX magazine; a tireless news hound for Starburst magazine; a diligent interviewer/reviewer for The Third Alternative and Interzone magazines and a combination of all the above for The Alien Online. She spends her spare time lying down with a cold flannel on her forehead. Visit her site at The Auden Interviews.

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