Beric Henderson

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Local artist Beric Henderson has been invited to submit some of his work for “Equilibrium” – an exhibition that highlights global warming and explores how we might go about reclaiming paradise and halting ecological devastation.

Beric was honoured to receive this invitation, which means his works will be showcased to a wide audience. The best part of all – the exhibition is in Venice, Italy, and Beric plans to explore some of the sights while he’s there!

Hi Beric. Many would know you from your gallery, Ultragrafik in Port Macquarie. How has 2019 panned out for you and your business so far?

It has been an amazing year! I spent the first three months finishing a single artwork I started five years ago. The picture is called Dreams of Utopia and is the largest and most detailed artwork I have ever done – can I plug the limited edition prints now available in my gallery? I supply a magnifying glass, so people can see all the details. 

Since then I have been planning other exhibitions and creating and selling art. I love the wonderful response of people when they first enter the gallery/studio and see my work.

When FOCUS spoke with you in 2017, you mentioned you had a background in science, as you’d previously headed a cancer research team at the Westmead Institute for Medical Research. How do you still continue to merge science with art in your practice these days?

When I was a scientist, my art was more about dreams and the subconscious. Now as a full-time artist, the science has returned and is influencing my artwork. My background in biology and genetics definitely helps guide my current artistic direction – exploring our deeper connections with nature.

You’ve been invited to showcase five of your paintings in an exhibition titled Equilibrium at the Palazzo Albrizzi-Cappelo in Venice from June 1st. What’s this exhibition about – and how were your works selected?

It’s an amazing opportunity, and I was pleasantly surprised to receive the email. The curator, Mary Patricia Warming, is based in Berlin and had seen my work and invited me to contribute to this exhibition about global warming and how we might go about reclaiming paradise and halt the ecological devastation. 

There will be 17 international artists, including one other Australian contributor – a team of engineers and artists from Victoria University in Melbourne called Skunk Control, who do large art installations to promote science. Should be fun! My trip is supported by a grant from the Regional Arts Fund NSW.

Tell us more about the individual works you’ll be presenting in this exhibition … 

I am contributing five acrylic paintings on canvas – four of them I painted recently for the show. They are all 60 cm high (ranging from
45 cm – 60 cm wide) which makes them easier to transport, but also means they will line up perfectly when hung. They are part of my current Tree of Man series, showing human silhouettes filled with life and elements of nature. They are colourful abstract works that are rich in detail and ideas. I like art that is both attractive and thought provoking.

Given your studies and science background, what are some of the key messages you wish to convey via your artwork about climate change?

It is easy for the average reader to be swayed by the media. As a former scientist, I prefer to look at the source material and data for any news relating to scientific issues. The evidence is pretty clear that we are destroying the planet’s liveable surface, causing directly or indirectly the loss of animal species and destruction of forests, polluting the oceans and contaminating the air we breathe. Given that the world’s population is increasing at the expense of our finite resources – there is only so long this can be sustained! 

My art addresses some of these topics with a focus on our impact on nature, such as bee populations and germination. My art is also about hope and improving our connections with nature.

What sites are you hoping to explore in Venice? 

There is so much to see and do. The Equilibrium exhibition is run by an independent team called Art Science Exhibits and will be held in an official Biennale venue, the Palazzo Albrizzi, so they expect a lot of visitors. 

I will be there for 11 days, and when I am not at the exhibition, I will be exploring the city and taking lots of photos. Aside from networking with the other artists, I will spend time at the Biennale, as there is a LOT of art on display. I also hope to visit the Leonardo da Vinci Museum and the new Science Gallery at the university.

What are you hoping to experience/learn from visiting and exhibiting in Venice?

I went there once before in the ‘90s, so I know to avoid the main tourist areas as much as possible. I want to experience the history of the city and of course, connect with the other artists. That is really important to setting up future collaborative projects, and not as easy to do from Port Macquarie. I will also document the trip, as I am planning to give a lecture on the art-science experience at CSU during Science Week in August.

Once you get over the jetlag, what are you aiming to work on/accomplish for the rest of the year?

Busy times ahead ‘til Christmas – immediately after I get back, I need to finish a large lightbox design for the Artwalk Festival in Port
Macquarie in July, and install a new group exhibition with local and Sydney artists called Supernatural in my Gallery (opens 18th July). 

Beyond that, I still have some new works to complete for my upcoming exhibition Symmetry of Nature, which opens at the Glasshouse in November. Excited about that one!

Where can we find out more about your work/contact you?

I am usually at my Studio at Ultragrafik Fine Art; come visit me there at Shop 4 in the Colonial Arcade (Hay Street end, opposite Bookface café), Port Macquarie. Opening hours and images of my work are on the website at www.ultragrafik.com 

People can learn more about me and my art at www.berichenderson.com 

I can be contacted at beric@ultragrafik.com or phone 0438 511 871. Thanks so much for the interview!

Thanks Beric.

Interview: Jo Robinson.

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