The detritus of urban life has never been so vibrant as in Anne Hardy’s photograms, on display in the exhibition Rising Heat at Maureen Paley.
For its inaugural show, the gallery’s new Studio M project space on Arnold Circus is hung with 12 analogue images that were produced in 2020 and form the artist’s new series The Depth of Darkness, the Return of the Light.
A piece of waste becomes a diaphanous pink ghost; plant parts trace elegant shapes across a rainbow-coloured field. Even dust – normally considered the analogue photographer’s worst enemy in the darkroom – etches eye-catching patterns.
Hardy is known for work that uses found things, left over from other human activities. For her, these objects that no longer serve their original purpose “embody a feeling of potential”.
The materials used in the production of these particular works were gathered from the Thames foreshore while Hardy was researching her 2019/2020 commission for Tate Britain, which took inspiration from the rhythms of the earth and the tides of the river in to transform the façade of the museum.
The photograms in Rising Heat are all brightly hued, but the palette varies from cool ocean blues and green to molten lava reds and the subtle colours of dawn. You can almost feel the alternating heat and coolness as the images transition from brightness to shade.
The works have abstract titles such as Equilibrium, Time Shift and Simultaneous Reality, as well as seemingly more representational names like Still Waters, Leaden Shade and Into Darkness. As Hardy says in an interview that accompanies the exhibition: “I think of the photograms as states of being – as moments, gestures, or feelings.”
On the title of the exhibition itself, she explains: “I was thinking about rising heat in a literal sense and how that feels, but also about how a writer like JG Ballard uses moments when the heat of the day rises in ‘Drowned World’ as a time when some protagonists become dormant, and other things start to happen – the heat both calms and agitates. In this sense, heat is creating the possibility for change – something has been stilled so that something else can come forward.”
One thinks more concretely of the planetary threat of climbing temperatures, and how the junk we throw in the Thames is shorthand for all the millions of tiny cuts we make to our gloriously-coloured globe.
Whatever the most apt interpretation of these evocative images, they are well worth a visit to Shoreditch.
Anne Hardy: Rising Heat runs until 6 June, Maureen Paley, Studio M, Rochelle School, 7 Playground Gardens, E2 7FA.