News was posted that artist, Noel Harding R.C.A. (1945-2016), passed away May 26, 2016, of a heart attack. This advice comes from his long-time friend and great advocate, Ydessa Hendeles. Thereby, I must trust this to be unhappily true.
Noel, thank you for the fantastic works you brought our way. Your many achievements have been showcased and celebrated, but this is after all Canada, and recognition of your contribution is yet to come; not to worry.
Noel Harding, "The Potato Eaters," 1990
Noel Harding, "The Potato Eaters," 1990, Mississauga Civic Centre
Each of us will focus upon different aspects of your work over the years. Before most knew or cared, Noel was an advocate for environmental sustainability. His wacky and delightful sculptural installation projects pitted technology against nature. The Elevated Wetlands project at Toronto’s Don Valley is a prime example. We tried to orchestrate some relatable effort at the University of Lethbridge in cooperation with the department of Water Management. It was a worthy attempt but with no ultimate lasting outcome.
Elevated WetlandsNoel Harding, "Elevated Wetlands," 1997, 1998
Noel Harding, "Elevated Wetlands," 1997, 1998, Taylor Creek Park, Toronto
I am remembering his commendable irreverence and impish playful artistic spirit that produced memorable works. Personally, I’m recalling that he was a pioneer in the field of video art and that from 1969-71 when I was a student at University of Guelph (under the guidance of Eric Cameron), Noel was the ‘technician’ who tirelessly and inventively helped me craft my early video work, specifically “The intention of this tape…”. He was one of few persons at the time that even cared about the prospect of video as art and the value of it reflecting idiosyncratic personal narratives.
I’m looking forward to seeing one of Noel’s techno/nature contraptions installed on Parliament Hill. Actually, I lie. I’d prefer to see it on the banks of the Saint John River as part of our international sculpture park.
We miss you already Noel.