Henry Hussey: Textiles, Expression and New Fashion

I finally met Henry Hussey, a contemporary artist whose work I’ve been following for the past few years. We caught up at Sketch, where his current exhibition ‘Invisible Anchors of Time’ is being held. With thanks to both Presenza and Sketch for making this happen.

Firstly, my guests will want to know what kind of artist you are. What you do and the what kind of art do you make?

The foundation of all my works is the emotional intent of the piece whether this is exploring my own personal experiences or those on a societal level it should strike directly at the heart of the issue. Rawness has become an increasingly important aspect of my work as by stripping down the imagery and content to the sheer emotions, it distils what I am trying to express, giving it poignancy.

Materiality is engrained into my practice. I use textiles to project my concerns and grievances with presence and impact. The medium allows you to quickly build scale into a work and you can clearly state your claim and have your message heard. I approach textiles far more from a militaristic and imperialist side as for centuries it has been used by nations to display their authority and establish provenance. This is how I construct my works as they are extensions of myself and proclaim the events I have experienced, also how I will address my own shortcoming and the actions I take in the future.

I first saw your work a couple of years ago at Zavier’s Charlie Smith Gallery in Old Street, London and fell in love with it for it’s hand-made quality and use of text. Tell us more about how you’ve kept yourself busy since graduating.

Upon graduating I set out to keep the momentum I had gathered at the RCA this incentive to continue working with an unbridled resolve and uncompromising scale. Shortly after exhibiting in Bloomberg New Contemporaries I began working with the gallery Coates & Scarry, since then I have primarily had gallery shows and exhibited at art fairs in both London and Hong Kong. I will also be exhibiting at Volta NY with Coates & Scarry in March.

In the future it is my endeavour to be involved in more curated shows at both museums and biennales as from my own experience there is a repetitive nature you reach with purely commercial gallery shows and art fairs. You need the freedom to create works for an environment where empathise is not placed on selling it is instead on the impact of the work. The exhibitions I create moving forward it is imperative that the viewer enters an atmosphere, which is saturated with meaning throughout the space conveying an over arching narrative. Achieving this by working across mediums such as glass and bronze so that I can disrupt how you traverse the environment and engage the viewer.

As an artist myself I’ve at times struggled with the ability to produce work when I most want to and my creative juices flow more sometimes than others. Do you encounter this? And what do you do to overcome it.

Experiencing creative struggle is almost a right of passage as all artists need to explore there own sense of losing themselves and having a lack of direction. Within my own practise I have reached a stalemate where it feels redundant to make for the sake of making. This is a moment when it is an exercise in honestly looking at yourself and your own faults in order to establish what you are actually trying to accomplish and the lasting impression the work should have.

I think it is was useful to get over the notion of the fear of not making as there is this pressure to constantly producing yet useless you have something noteworthy to express then you should resist this temptation. Instead allow the ideas to build and gain momentum until there is an urgency to create and you overcome this obstacle. I find anger to be hugely motivating, as it does not need to be a negative emotion and when utilised it can propel you forward and forged your determination into an unbreakable force.  

Your work lends itself incredibly well to fashion, both subject matter wise and materially. Tell us more about your interest here and the kinds of projects and collaborations you’ve been involved with.

I have been hesitant to explore the possibilities of my work in fashion, as the risk of trivialising my artworks was a factor. However it was a fruitful relationship working with Massimo Giorgetti at MSGM as during our initial conversations and discussing the inspiration behind the collection I was given the freedom to form the imagery and designs with complete freedom. The sense of irreverence the collection has is what gives the pieces their stature as they are done without a notion of commercial fashion.

Each garment has a narrative coursing through it that has almost a poetic quality and only grows in mystic through the embellished imagery and panels of writing that conveys an untold story. The fragmented quotes were a revelation as it was engaging to see glimpses of my own past and emotions woven throughout the collection, which gave a dialogue between each garment. This gives an incentive to expand upon these ideas whether through fashion or costume design as by having a narrative entrenched in a deep and meaningful way this elevates the entire collection.

Thank you henry for giving us more of an insight into you and your incredible work. 

Follow Henry Hussey @henryhusseyartist