Peter Hardie RIP

Posted: Mon, 07 Oct 2019 14:48

Peter Hardie RIP

We are very sad to note the passing of Peter Hardie, artist, educator and CAS member. Friend and fellow artist Stephen Bell reflects on Peter's life and work in this obituary:

Peter Fraser Hardie was born in Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1945 and died at home in Wareham on Sunday 22nd September 2019. He had been seriously ill for several years but he was able to enjoy the company of his family and said that his garden had been wonderful when I spoke with him on the phone at the start of summer.

Peter graduated from Portsmouth College of art with a DipAD in Sculpture in 1967 and with a Postgraduate Diploma in Design from Hornsey College of Art in 1968.

From 1968-79 he was a lecturer in 3D Art and design (CAD) at Northern Ireland Polytechnic, showing his work in the exhibitions in Polyhedral Forms and Ulster faces by Ulster Artists in Belfast in 1970 and 1973-74 respectively. In 1980 Peter joined the Design Department at Teesside Polytechnic where he was a Senior Lecturer in Interior Design (CAD) until 1987. Those years included in 1984 an exhibition, Computer Images at Middlesborough Art Gallery and a television screening on the making of the title sequence for The Works TV arts program. It was at Teesside that he and Peter Comninos began working together.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Peter Hardie and Peter Comninos became a classic example of the creative power of artist and scientist partnerships which would now be called sci-art. Recognised in computer graphics circles as the two Peters, they demonstrated how the knowledge and skills of their separate disciplines could be brought together. Peter H's CAD experience and ability to use the animation scripting language of Peter C's Computer Graphics Animation Language, CGAL, showed other artists that they might use code to make art at a time when such ideas were still considered revolutionary and what they learnt led to the formulation of a special environment at the National Centre for Computer Animation which has nurtured graduates with scientific and artistic skills ever since and led to Bournemouth being recognised internationally as a significant world player in computer animation education and research.

A typical example of the creative combination of art and technology were the series of entertainment simulator rides produced by Peter through The Cupboard production company (named after the modest accommodation they occupied). From 1993-99 these productions pioneered CGI entertainment rides with a storyline rather than simple thrills. The content of Planet Juro, Lair of the Dragon, Mission on Mars, Mars Mayhem and Alien Worlds reflected Peter's enthusiasm for science fiction and fantasy stories. The rides were screened around the world with Mission on Mars shown in the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida. In contrast to the high tech of the rides Peter favoured hardback copies of the books that he loved so he could read new stories as soon as they were published.

With the turn of the century Peter began to focus again on his personal art practice, using high quality CGI techniques to produce animations and prints that explored natural phenomena of light on water, inspired by artists such as Monet and Bridget Riley, the works, which were exhibited nationally and internationally, including at Siggraph Art Shows in the USA (2004, 2006, 2007), Glastonbury Festival (2009) and ISEA Istanbul (2011). They "… explore the area between realism, exploring the tools now available in a 3D computer animation system for these purposes, and abstraction, looking at the aspects of colour, form, and movement." Peter wrote of the animation and stills of Falling Water, "The focus is on the interaction of the water movement and pattern and the light and dark of the scene. … evolving from the initial reactive studies of the falls to developing the structure of the image, the vertical line, the black and white, the textural variations, and the strong abstract statements the images are beginning to make." Peter continued to explore his sensitive lyrical response to nature's subtle, slow changes in his work, including the movement of leaves and tree branches by the breeze. In recent years he had been focusing on a single tree in Wareham Forest near his home.

Peter Hardie's website and his animations ( say more about Peter's art than I can put into words.

I first got to know Peter when the character of the NCCA was initially being established. As fine artists using computer graphics Peter and I were able to work together to put the case for the art side of the combination of art & science that was being explored and it is as a fellow artist that I will remember him most. I fondly remember relaxing interludes in the working day, sitting outside with Peter discussing art or science fiction and fantasy. Often while watching him play chess with a disarming zen-like ingenuity. Peter often came on these occasions from a game of squash sometimes with an exhausted opponent who reported that they had been rushing around the court while Peter made minimal but effective moves.

As a colleague and friend, Peter's laid-back personality provided calm amidst the storms that life seems to throw in our way. He was, as his name suggests, a rock. Beneath that calm personality, there was a firm resolve to get things done.

His constructive critical observations about students and fellow artists work were perceptive and insightful. On the Masters courses, he ran from 1989 until 2007 and with the Visual Research Group, Peter's leadership was subtle and effective, not strident or forceful - encapsulated in the institution of "pizza meetings" where the team could all both relax and discuss challenging issues. This approach to management also came through when making entertainment rides or running other consultancy projects.

It was a real privilege to have worked alongside Peter for so many years and to consider him a friend. I, and I am sure many others, will miss the way that spending just a little time with him could make the day pass more easily.

His art displays a sensitivity to nature and computer graphics which will be a lasting reminder of his lively mind and very particular view of existence.

He is survived by his wife Joyce, children Jane, Jess and Jake and granddaughters Millie, Tabitha and Jade.

The photograph shows Peter talking with colleague Dr Valery Adzhiev at the opening of the Light on Water exhibition.


2004, Artists Statement,
2007, Artists Statement,

Tags: CAS