Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Lengths by Howard Hardiman

A strange piece of synchronicity came to pass yesterday. For a couple of years I have had on my shelf a set of comic books called The Lengths, complete in seven issues, that I bought and didn't so much read as inhaled all that time ago. I have no idea why they haven't featured on Front Free Endpaper before now. The Lengths is based on interviews conducted by the artist with escorts in London and it tells the story of art school drop-out Eddie, his friends, lovers and clients. All of the characters in the book are dog-headed anthropomorphic figures: this is the masterstroke that allows the universal to be present in the specific and thus creates a piece of artwork. But, the synchronicity...

As regular readers will know R and I live in Portsmouth and the ancestral seat is on the Isle of Wight and so we often cross the narrow stretch of sea called The Solent to visit 'home'. This weekend past the Island has laid on an Artists' Open Studio weekend and so among a number of other venues we visited The Depozitory, a converted chapel, now art space in Ryde. And one of the exhibiting artists was Howard Hardiman, the author/artist of The Lengths. A charming and sweet man he has only recently moved to the Island from London and it was lovely to be able to chat with him about The Lengths and his other work. I have something of a thing for anthropomorphism anyway but Howard's images of the Minotaur and the dancing antler-headed young man (all viewable at his website) really struck a chord. 

I can heartily recommend The Lengths. It is a brilliant piece of work that begins by asking the question, 'what lengths might you go to in order to fulfill your desires?' and becomes a meditation on the interplay between choice and compulsion in our desires. It is also laugh-out-loud funny in places, dense with references and by turns both tragic and heartwarming: it leaves you imagining that the streets of London are full of fit, furry-faced young men.

1 comment:

J said...

Amazon here in the U.S. lists the book of THE LENGTHS, and I've pre-ordered it!

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