Harry Hart

Harts not just for art’s sake

20th July 2018

AUSTRALIA’S most famous outback painter Pro Hart started it all in 1988.

Flick around some fruit juice, tomato sauce, spaghetti bolognese and a few cakes, body surf through the mess and – hey, presto! – you have a picture of a giant dragonfly.

It was all part of a captivating TV commercial for a brand of stain-resistant carpet that ended with the Hart original – and we all know what they are worth – being erased and the carpet returned to a blank canvas.

The ad ended with a cleaner berating the artist with the line, ”Oh Mr Hart, what a mess!”

Fast-forward 22 years and the Hart family is at it again.

This time, Hart’s grandson, Harry, 11, is raiding the fridge for ingredients for an update of the ad now screening on TV.

The ad ends with his mother Christine cleaning the carpet and muttering: “Oh, you’re too much like your grandfather.”

It might work to help sell carpet but the problem with an artwork using food instead of paint is that, well, quite quickly it goes mouldy.

So, to create a rather longer-lasting canvas, The Sun-Herald asked Harry, assisted by his artist dad David – the youngest of Hart’s five children – to repeat the exercise using more conventional materials.

Sydney Harbour is the result and you can buy it – the original – mould-free. The artists have donated the work to the South Eastern section of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which has a large base in Broken Hill, where Hart was born, lived and painted.

Hart, who received an MBE for his services to the arts, was given a state funeral in his beloved Broken Hill when he died in 2006, aged 77.

The RFDS is selling Sydney Harbour at auction, without a reserve – David has an Opera House painting on his website for $10,780 – but this much larger painting on a 2m x 1.8m rectangle of carpet is expected to be worth about $16,000.

“It’s a joint effort – Harry has had a day off school and we have both signed it,” David said. “We have used about 10 litres of acrylic paint because the carpet really soaks it up.

“I think it will take about a week to dry.”

Harry, the youngest of three, said his teacher had given him the day off school because it was for a good cause.

“Doing the latest ad took 22 hours over two days, it was great fun doing it and my friends thought it was the coolest ad they had seen,” he said.

“With this painting I am doing the whole Opera House and dad is doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and [Sydney] Tower.”