THE EXHIBITION ‘Innovators in Abstraction’ featuring the work of lifelong friends Harry Anderson and Charles Pulsford has been showing at the Gibberd Gallery in Harlow Town.
The two met at Edinburgh College of Art. Charles was Harry’s tutor and they later became friends, sharing ideas and developing artistically together. Roger Lee, a staff member at Parndon Mill, described the friendship as a ‘Purely art based relationship, they were like chalk and cheese, Harry was well read and quiet whereas Charles could be seen staggering the streets of Edinburgh with a bottle of whisky in his pocket and wearing horns on his head.’
Harry Anderson and his ex-wife Sally Anderson met at Edinburgh College of Art in 1950, and in 1954 they moved to London. In 1960 they moved to Harlow and Sally explained, ‘There was a big arts scene in Harlow, with many artists, a string quartet, dancing, there was opportunity and new beginnings.’
All of Harry’s work at the Gibberd Gallery shows the influence that Parndon Mill played in the creation of his art, the natural landscape, the animals, the plant life, the fields.
At the gallery Harry’s exhibits feature landscapes in, drawings, oil, charcoal, pastel, gouache. In his notebook, which is on display at the gallery, sketches and early forms of drawings fill the pages, with brainstormed ideas, often including just words.
After the couple had moved to Harlow, they bought Parndon Mill 40 years ago and restored it up from the ground. In 1963 their marriage broke down but the two continued to live at the Mill and Sally remarried.
Harry looked after the livestock, and tended to the up-keep of the land whenever he wasn’t in his studio painting. Chris Roskell fellow artist described the late artist at work in his studio, ‘To visit Harry’s studio, which in latter years I often did, my own studio being next door, would normally find him sitting with a cigarette and a cup of coffee in deep contemplation of the piece that he was working on.’
Harry had no interest in money or critical acclaim and Roger Lee claimed, ‘He was dedicated, totally involved in his painting, he gave more paintings away than he sold.’
Sally Anderson was a tutor in ceramics at Harlow College. She would sometimes exhibit her own artwork at the Harlow Playhouse, where Harry’s work would also be featured. Sally stated, ‘Harry never made effort to exhibit his work at all, his whole life was his paintings.’
The last time Harry’s work was exhibited was in 2007 at the Randolph Gallery in Edinburgh, to great critical acclaim. Sir Richard Demarco stated it was, ‘The most important exhibition of Modern Art in Edinburgh for the last 20 years’.
Sally encouraged me to go back in to the exhibition space, ‘Go and look at his paintings with a clear mind, there is nothing to understand, everything to know about Harry is in his art’.
The exhibition opened October 14 and finished November 17. It has received lots of good feedback from the public and has been the first exhibition of this nature to compile both of the artists work.