(Photo credits to Henry Hussey and Coates & Scarry)
The art week has arrived and I have been down with a serious flu for the past week. Good that I am back physically and have a chance to visit Coates & Scarry Gallery’s booth at Art Central today. This time, they are representing London-based textile artist Henry Hussey, whose works are showing the first time here in Hong Kong. The first look of his works gives a powerful message, alongside with intricate embroidery, hand-dyed vintage fabrics, and beading works with his grandmother’s pearls inherited. Below is an interview with the artist himself from where we can understand more about the stories behind.
Across all design media, what brought you to start your education with textile design in London?
I happened to stumble across textiles by chance, a relative recommended that I studied a certain art course in the UK where it was part of the syllabus. I found that I had a natural affinity for the medium and was able to communicate my thoughts with clarity and purpose. This led me to have an increasingly deep relationship with textiles, which soon began my chosen medium and has been the foundation of my artistic practise.
When was the turning point when you decide to go through the artist path?
The transition came about while I was studying MA Textiles at the Royal College of Art, which was a 2-year course. Over this period I found me myself growing weary of creating design orientated works as I felt it had become stylized and vacuous. I was desperate to make something of substance and truth that I could stand against and be proud of having poured myself into, which was the start of my artistic works.
With your intimate relationship with fabrics, do you have a specific kind that you use often?
I try to work with family heirlooms or precious materials however a fabric I continue to return to is damask, which I often source from antique fabric shops it is old-fashioned in style and has patterns woven within the material. What I find engaging about it is that the pieces have an ingrained history so by dyeing these then composing my works onto I am building upon this heritage with my own personal history.
A lot of your works include a “face” or a character visually. Is there a reason why you incorporate them?
There is no clearer or more direct form of communication than facial expressions. Each one is immediately recognisable and can evoke a raft of emotions no matter what race, nationality or religion you are from it is possible to understand what it being conveyed. I perform with actors and document these exchanges, which act a basis of my works then channelling what was expressed into the pieces with conviction.
You mentioned in your statement “The artworks I create are informed by my own experiences and depict the significant moments in my life”. Could you share one or two memorable experiences that inspired you most?
I find it impossible to tackle issues that do not resonate with me, I need to have a personal connection in order to invest myself into the works. Recently I lost a close relative of mine over a series of months and this has become ingrained into my memory, I have been returning to these thoughts and they are beginning to manifest in my works. These personal reflections anchor me and give my works the emotional impact they need.
If you were to use one word to describe your “craftsmanship” in your art works, what would it be?
‘Spectacle’ is one of my key strengths as I have the ability through my compositions to build a sense of scope and drama into the works. I utilise a range of textile techniques to create works that engage the viewer and bring them into the narrative. I have an affinity for scale and creating powerful structures with purpose and authority yet without forgetting the need to have a level of intimacy and heart to the works.
Do you have any projects coming up?
In the near future I have a solo exhibition with the gallery Coates and Scarry in London this July. I will be showing a new series of works that delve into how we remember those, closest to us and the remaining fragments left by them. The core of these works began with a performance piece with the actress Maxine Peake whose likeness will feature in the works and who was utterly compelling to have collaborated with.
What advice would you give to new creative talents?
Something I remind myself of each and every day is that we exist in an age where there are more artists graduating and existing within the art world yet not all of them including myself will reach phenomenal worldwide success. I am not being pessimistic and saying it will never happen however having a sense of realism and practicality is essential to remain in this industry with a view to having a substantial career.
Henry Hussey’s works are exhibited in Coates & Scarry booth at:
Central Harbourfront Event Space
9 Lung Wo Road, Central
|Wednesday 23 March
Thursday 24 March
Friday 25 March
Saturday 26 March
|12pm – 7pm
12pm – 7pm
11am – 7pm
11am – 6pm