Beric Henderson paints detailed and evocative works, that lead the viewer to explore and discover. Now owning a local gallery space, Ultragrafik Fine art, Beric is also exhibiting his work at the Glasshouse.
Hi Beric. Tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to call Port Macquarie home …
I love the coast and knew I’d end up in Port Macquarie after my first visit here 15 years ago. There was a strong connection that I can’t quite put into words, but it stayed with me. I was born in Sydney and lived there most of my life, but moved around quite a bit. I lived in Canberra and the Gold Coast as a child, and later as an adult spent five years overseas with my wife and son in Lausanne and Cambridge.
While I always loved art, my initial training was in science and for quite some time I headed a cancer research team at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research in Sydney. But over the past 15 years I spent most of my spare time painting and drawing. I have had 12 solo shows and many group exhibitions and tended to network more with artists than scientists, and in the end the pressure of my double life became too much!
My wife and I sold up in Sydney and relocated to Port Macquarie in 2015, and I moved my studio up here in July 2016. We love it here.
How do you like to describe your artistic style?
Dream-like, visionary, evocative. I like to experiment with technique. I use a textured painting style with lots of tiny brush strokes or dots (a pointillist style) in my figurative artworks.
Lately I have done more detailed abstract art. I rarely paint just from direct observation. Most of my work stems from my dreams or imagination. I love the idea of producing work that is beautiful to look at, but even more revealing on closer inspection. My pieces take a long time to complete.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Lots of places! I am inspired by many artists, such as Pollock, Hopper, Giacometti and Seurat. My art is also inspired by cinema, science, philosophy and spirituality. I have been lucky enough to have memorable conversations with interesting people, including Nobel prize winners, film directors and of course, other artists.
Tell us about your project, “Ultragrafik”…
Well … I had been day-dreaming of a full-time life in art for several years. Part of that dream was a comfortable studio and a small gallery where I could show my art and that of other artists I admire or might collaborate with.
I easily get bored and tend to gravitate towards art that is compelling, whether it be a new idea, a visual feast or a different way of looking at something.
Last year I spotted a shop for sale in Port Macquarie, I bought it, and now the dream is realised – Ultragrafik Fine Art is born! At present the key artists are me and my son, Julian Henderson, a designer and illustrator based in Sydney. However, we aim to show a range of select artists in group themed exhibitions or solo shows at the gallery. I encourage artists and art lovers to visit the space!
What is the theme of your latest exhibition?
My latest exhibition is called Cosmographica. The title is derived from the Charta Cosmographica (~1550), one of several medieval atlases that were the first attempts to chart the world in which we live.
Likewise, this exhibition illustrates man’s place in the universe through paintings, works on paper and lightboxes. There is a lot of symbolism and information embedded in the drawings, and people often have fun discovering hidden details as they linger over the works. The lightboxes are unusual and were first shown at the BEAMS art festival in Sydney, where they drew a lot of interest!
When and where will the exhibition be held?
Cosmographica opens at The Glasshouse in Port Macquarie at 6pm on Friday 10th February and runs until 19th March. I will also give an artist talk about the show at 11am on Saturday 25th February.
Can you give us an insight into the stories behind some of your works that will be showcased?
There is a strong influence of science, culture and hints about my personal philosophies scattered through many of the artworks. Two drawings called Convergence and Dreams of Utopia were previously shortlisted for the New World Art Prize in Sydney, and they contrast the technological restraints of our everyday existence with the apparent freedom of a utopia or paradise that lies beyond our consciousness. Perhaps they reflect my state of mind at the time! The largest piece is called Symmetry of Nature, which was inspired by the forests around Lighthouse Beach and will also be displayed in April in a Sydney gallery.
What is your favoured subject and favourite medium to work with?
My main drive is imagination. I prefer to create works that don’t necessarily fit into a neat category, but that inspire feelings, moods or ideas. I usually work with acrylic paint, ink and pencil. I had worked with oils early on, but often lack the patience to wait for each layer to dry.
Where is your “creative space/studio”…
My studio and gallery, Ultragrafik Fine Art, is located at Shop 4 in the Colonial Arcade at 25-27 Hay Street, opposite the Bookface café. People are encouraged to pop in and browse. It is a great place to meet up with other artists and future art collectors! For further details, visit www.berichenderson.com or