Memorial service to pay tribute to sculptor Matthew Harding

A MEMORIAL service will be held on Saturday to remember Matthew Harding, the boy from Raymond Terrace whose sculptures have raised eyebrows and started conversations around the world.

Harding, the artist behind Honeysuckle’s Ship to Shore, the stainless steel rope-like knots that are illuminated at night and were inspired by Newcastle’s maritime history, died suddenly last month, aged 53.

A memorial service is planned at St Brigid's Catholic Church, William Street, Raymond Terrace on Saturday, March 17 at 10am.

Harding, who was credited with creating more public artworks in Canberra than any other single artist and whose works can be found in public and private collections around the world, first qualified as a carpenter and joiner in Newcastle in the early 1980s.

In 1987, Harding, then a 22-year-old carpenter, carved the figurehead of King William IV for a replica of the first steamship built in Australia. William IV's replica was a $1.3 million Bicentennial project and the two-metre-high figurehead took Harding six months to carve and paint. At the time, Harding described himself as “just a young, struggling artist”.

Harding would later move to Canberra and graduate with first class-honours from the ANU School of Art in 1995. He spent much of his adult years in Canberra, but was most recently living with his family in Trentham, Victoria.

When his Honeysuckle sculpture, Ship to Shore, was unveiled in 2015, Harding told the Newcastle Herald he was “very proud” of his Newcastle heritage.

‘‘My great- and great-great-grandfathers were captains on the steamships in Newcastle Harbour and their original coastal and harbourmaster certificates still hang with pride and place in the family home at Raymond Terrace,’’ he said at the time.

In 1997, Harding was commissioned by Hunter Development Corporation to create the Honeysuckle Bollards.

A message on Harding's official website noted that he took his own life on February 22, leaving behind his partner and four young children. 

The local community in Trentham have set up a GoFundMe page to support Harding's family, at gofundme.com/fund-for-freya.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636