A Raymond Terrace-born artist who left his mark on the Newcastle and Canberra cityscapes will be remembered in a private memorial service this weekend.
Stainless steel rope-like knots, grey by day and illuminated by night, installed in Honeysuckle is just one of a vast body of works left behind by artist Matthew Harding, who died suddenly at the end of February aged 53.
With at least 13 works also dotted around Canberra, the former Novocastrian is credited with creating more public artworks than any other single artist in the nation’s capital.
But he also produced dozens of works throughout the country and around the world, and his sculptures are now found in private and public collections in the US, UK, Japan, Vanuatu, Singapore, Cambodia, Canada and New Zealand.
When his Honeysuckle sculpture was unveiled in 2015, Harding told Fairfax Media he was “very proud” of his Newcastle heritage.
“My great- and great-great-grandfathers were captains on the steamships in Newcastle Harbour and their original coastal and harbourmaster certificates still hang with pride and place in the family home at Raymond Terrace,” he said at the time.
Harding spent much of his adult years in Canberra, but was most recently living with his family – partner Freya and four children aged between 4 and 10 – in Trentham, Victoria.
He first qualified as a carpenter and joiner in Newcastle in the early 1980s before focusing on art, moving to Canberra and graduating with first class honours from the ANU School of Art in 1995.
Lecturer in sculpture at ANU School of Art, Nick Stranks, said Harding had not only been an exceptional artist, but a generous collaborator and mentor.
“What Matt was great at doing was bringing other people and working with other people to bring their works to fruition,” he said. “And not only with other artists but with industry and industry professionals, to educate them about the subtleties that were involved in making art, and those nuances that tradespeople aren't always aware of.”
A message on Harding’s official website noted that he took his own life on February 22. A funeral was held in Trentham on March 8.
A private memorial service for close friends and family will be held in Newcastle on Saturday.
The community in Trentham have set up a GoFundMe page to support Harding's family, at gofundme.com/fund-for-freya.
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