Artist – Henry Hudson
Henry Hudson is a British artist who makes paintings, sculpture, etchings and who does performances too. He graduated from Central St. Martins, an art college in London. He now lives and works in the East End of London. For the past 7 years, he has been using plasticine in his artwork.
The photo on the right shows Henry with one of his sculptures. It is a sculpture of a suitcase he made out of plastercine and then cast in bronze.
GB: How would you describe your art?
HH: Fun, theatrical, narrative based yet complex. But like any story it has lots of dark undertones and hidden meanings!
GB: When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
HH: Instinctively very early on, probably with my mum in front of a painting by Henri Rousseau called “Surprise!” at The National Gallery. It has everything you need in a painting. As a child and even more so somehow as an adult. Professionally speaking around 14 or 15.
You work with plasticine all of the time. When you were little did you have a thing about plasticine?
HH: My mum can probably answer that! No not really but it’s a cheap medium that sits with all the other things in that special draw in ones house. It’s a very British thing to announce you’re bored and a parent to tip out the contents of that draw onto the table and say “Well, make something.” Most of my immediate family have made a living using there hands in one way or another. Whether cooking, sculpting, model making, farming or making pottery. Plasticine is very direct, tactile and cheap. I like the idea of art being elevated. It’s very easy to buy expensive oils or cast things large in bronze. It’s arguably a little harder too make a work of art out of something cheap, used by children, laughed at by the establishment. I enjoy the challenge, the irony, the theatre of it. It takes my time, labour and draftsmanship to produce an artwork. It reinforces my beliefs and challenges me daily. I don’t know how long I’ll keep making plasticine works but I’m still finding ways to explore with this medium.
Image: Henry drawing when he was younger
GB: Are there any other materials that you like working with?
HH: Plenty and I will. But in life things have their own rhythms and paths. I always try and stay positive and optimistic about the work and life and in both things, I find doors open constantly. I wouldn’t say I have a responsibility for pushing plasticine any further, I could give it up tomorrow and feel I’d done eight years of solid work with it. But it’s still dictating to me now. Like any relationship if the spark goes, it goes, I guess. It hasn’t, yet.
GB: When you were young did you know you wanted to be an artist?
HH: Yes… always. Although I enjoyed acting immensely, I struggled with dyslexia and lines were impossible to remember, so I couldn’t get into the character. Too much fear about getting lines wrong and rejection – it’s too much. With art nothing has to leave your side unless you let it and no one can tell you what to do. I was badly bullied at school and art was a way of escaping trauma and anxiety. Your imagination will always set you free.
GB: When you were in school, what were your favourite subjects? How do you think this affected what you wanted to be when you grew up?
HH: History was amazing because it took me to other lands and different battlegrounds. Human behaviour from the past is our best way of understanding present human behaviour.
I also loved sport when it was less competitive.
GB: Was there anybody who really inspired you to be an artist either living or dead or someone you knew or someone you didn’t?
HH: Nostalgia (nostalgia means remembering something from the past that can make you sad or give you pleasure) can be a driving force in art. Mystery can be too. Without both these things art doesn’t really exist. I’m inspired by any human achievement or endeavour that has imagination, passion, love, thought and the heart.
GB: At any point did anyone try to put you off being an artist? How did they try to do that? What did you think about that?
HH: Plenty of times. It’s not easy being an artist and there are HUGE differences between “Sunday painting” and making it your life, or career. At some point you have to cross the line between just being passionate about painting and thinking of it being a never ending relationship that’s for life. And how does one sustain that passion alongside living practically and being motivated consistently, for better or worse your whole life? You need to give yourself work rules. Make yourself work and be strict with yourself. My choice to be an artist has never let me down so far. I can see why people might want to put you off. Today, you have to be a good businessman/businesswoman as well as a good artist.
GB: If you had to give some advice to a young artist who isn’t confident what would you say?
HH: Let the art do the talking. There are enough good people in the world that want to help. Just be well-mannered and dignified about your work.
GB: Do you have any other advice to give to young artists?
HH: I’m young!! How dare you! I’d tell myself, I’ll tell myself rather, “Breathe, take a step back, don’t think about the past, only the future. Feel free to make as many mistakes as you want and don’t criticise those mistakes too harshly. Often the ones that seem bad at the time end up being the ones you come back to in the end. Trust your gut feeling and remember the only person that will get you to a place of satisfaction will always be you – no matter how great your technology is or the number of assistants you have. Feel good about yourself first.”
GB: Have you ever worked with any other artists on a painting or a sculpture or anything?
HH: All the time. Daily. I have a small team of artists and assistants. Plus printmakers, photographers and film makers. My father is a sculptor, my brother a potter. My grandmother was an artist and my mother a chef and cookery writer.
GB: What is a normal day like for you as an artist?
HH: I couldn’t tell you. It’s a mad one daily.
GB: Do you think you will be an artist all your life and what are your goals?
HH: Always an artist. I signed up around 14. I’m quite stubborn.
GB: If you could hypnotise someone, who would it be and why would you do it?
HH: I’d like to hypnotise you and ask you all the questions you just asked me….
Image: A drawing Henry did when he was 8 years old.