There is no way to describe the moment I first met this artist, because it would become a nebulous exercise in excavating memory, and determining the exact date that my soul landed in my body. You see, this interview is all about my mother, who is, and has been, an artist for as long as I’ve known her.
The time it took me to realize she was an artist as well as my mother however, was a longer journey.
Louise Hardy is primarily a large-scale wet-felter, an accomplished artist who also uses her art in her role as social worker, counselor and art therapist. She has also used food as a way to love, to share, to create, and her dinner parties are feasts for the stomach, the spirit and the heart. They please all of the senses and I”m so delighted to share some of her joy here.
Louise’s creative spirit is most definitely part of the reason why most of my family is filled with so many artists and highly creative people. Growing up in the cauldron of a creative do-it-yourself ethos based on practicality (not much money) and fun (because making is more pleasurable than just buying something), how could myself, my siblings and my daughter be anything but bursting with as much creativity as my mother.
What does it mean to be an artist? And when did you know you were an artist (aka intensely creative person)?
I remember peeking out from behind my mother’s skirts and seeing the new green leaves, I was so little but the image of brilliant green filled my eyes and heart. I felt that again when I saw a little needle work kit at the store and knew I wanted to sew. I never got the kit but I fulfilled that wish of creation a thousand times over already.
When you consider the words luscious and soulful, what comes to mind? Is there anyone you know who embodies these traits? When do you feel luscious and soulful?
Luscious brings my heart-stopping brownies to mind and soulful makes me think of music and spaces around trees.
I feel soulful when I am deep in a creative project and have no sense of time. I think a lot of my friends are soulful and passionate and interesting.
What do you love most about your body? And why?
I love the sheer endurance of my body, that it gave birth four times, that I can do everything I want and love and that it takes me dancing.
What brings you pleasure? What senses are involved?
Food and rearranging furniture and making clothes and making symbolic clothes that were never worn or worn for just one occasion.
I love making food and planning food and eating it with friends in celebration. I
love music and dancing anytime, anywhere. Food and sound go deeply into our bodies and dancing makes the joy of it visible to others.
If you had to throw a dinner and dance party how would you do it?
Dinner parties, I have thrown many and they have changed over the years.
Now I would prefer to have live music which is a return to my childhood when my father, drunk or on the way to being drunk, would bring out his fiddle and my uncle would come and a guitar player and a singer and off they would play and everyone would dance.
I love to finish an evening with dancing.
The food is my passion and it takes all the seasons to gather the ingredients from the forests and then decide what to create. I love this and desserts, fish and friends, wine and bread, stories, poems and a good food fight every decade goes a long way to happiness.
Where/how do you find your inspiration?
Inspiration comes in my dreams and from nature. When I am picking wild cranberries my face is right down in the forest floor and everything is full and deep and beautiful and I get a million ideas.
I am also inspired by human life and the vast creativity and beauty that comes from others.
I am so thankful for magazines because they bring the world to me.
What does your ideal day look like?
An ideal day is different depending on the season and my mood. It usually starts with a good bracing cup of tea, alone now but sometimes in company, a ritual that has adapted over the years to whoever is in the house with me.
I love a good walking day. If it is a going to work day, I feel like my walk up the mountain and back is my pilgrimage.
If it is a home day then I get to garden and sew or plan a felt or have a project on the go and want to be working on it nonstop.
What advice would you give to your younger self? How old is she when she needs this advice?
To my younger self I would say ‘do not make excuses for other’s behaviour, ever, do not take that responsibility away from them.’
My other advice is to believe what you feel and see and hear; then you will live honestly within your soul and psyche.
What is your most treasured possession? Tell a little story about it.
I have many, but my mom’s old teaspoons with the gold nuggets on the end are my most treasured. Two of them have survived three generations of picnics on the claycliffs and a hundred parties, at least.
I don’t know who gave them to my mom because she could never have bought them herself and they weren’t her style at all. I know that nothing bitter was ever served up with them and everytime I hold one I feel my mother near to me.
Inspired resources: please share any heart-moving soul-shaking artistry or experiences that have moved you. What made it so powerful?
I have been moved by having the Shipibo Ononanya sing to me. It felt so beautiful and brought me to myself with another and into our greater shared universe.
I was brought to my core by walking the labyrinth at Chartes Cathedral in a procession at night, lit by candles and surrounded and sung to by a group of musicians.
I was moved to happiness and release dancing in the Yukon in February at the Frostbite music festival. I danced with three of my four children seven months after the death of my husband. I remember whirling and laughing and being so alive and so grateful for life and for all our struggles and all the love we give away if we are so fortunate to love.
Who are your favourite artists? And why?
I saw some art by Japanese artists at the National Gallery of Canada about 25 years ago and it was so different, it was scorched, carved poles, ropes in strange shapes, little huts on the grounds and it awoke in me the possibility of seeing art as something we live with and interact with more than just as an object to look at.
It was wondrous and I never forgot the sensation of being there, but I never knew the names of any of the artists.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you and your art?
Unfortunately, I can’t provide any links to explore Louise’s art further – she’s an offline artist only!
ps – if you know of any amazing artists I can profile in this series, send me an e-mail with their info – I’m always excited to connect with interesting amazing creatives.