Ones to Watch: Interview with T’Shah Henry

Find out more about T'Shah's work in our artist interview!

May 15th, 2020

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Your full name, and university course/year.

T’Shah Henry. University of Leeds. BA Art & Design. 4th Year (Final Year)

Can you describe your work to us in 3 words?

Hidden, Networks, Senses

What medium do you prefer to use?

I work across multiple disciplines, and tactility is an important aspect of the materials that I choose. I work a lot with materials that are discarded or ‘of the earth’, and I often critique my work for the ecological footprint it brings upon the world. A key material during my most current work has been clay. This is both an art material and a resource from the earth’s body. Clay is an integral part of The Network, acting as a way to record the temporality of the joining of hands in the making of a connection.

What is the inspiration behind your work?

I am inspired by the emotional, embodied connection with the outdoors, and investigate making these experiences more tangible. The form my work takes draws upon underground rhizomatic structures such as mycelium which are non-hierarchical, allowing numerous life forms to benefit collectively – a model that the human species could reflect upon. The Plantae Kingdom understands the importance of generating a community that increases their chances of survival – the stronger members sharing their excess nutrients through systems of roots and fungi to help strengthen the weaker trees in the community.

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?

I don’t have a physical tool that I cannot live without – my senses are my most important tool and can make do with resources I can find around me.

During this uncertain time what will you do to occupy yourself?

I am in my final year of university so things certainly cannot come to a stop for me. I have been and will continue to be busy completing work for my course, and keeping hope that we will somehow figure out a degree showing somewhere, even if we have to organise it ourselves!

Which artists are you most influenced by?

I am particularly influenced by Arte Povera. One such artist I would draw upon is Guiseppe Penone whose work I have visited in various locations and connect with deeply. The way he speaks about the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature aligns with my conception of nature.

Plans for the future?

I would like the opportunity to work collaboratively with a team of artists, as I love to observe how different creatives work and think.

Tell us about an exhibition that has stayed with you

I first saw Do Ho Suh’s work at The Victoria Miro Gallery, London and it was the most memorable exhibition I have been to. At the centre of the exhibition was the uniting of nine different connecting spaces of the homes which the artist has lived in, traced with polyester fabric and given structure by using stainless steel pipes that the audience could walk through. Each one of the hubs, corridors and main entrances are separate works and have been titled using the address of where the work originates. A distinction between the locations from which they have been traced is made through a change of colour, which additionally gives each of the architectural structures their own character. An experience of fluctuating emotions and the sense of stepping through boundaries is encountered when moving through the work, influenced by both the surrounding space, its translucency, and colour.

Passage/s also included film works, which fed in and out of the main sculptural piece. When travelling through the passageway the expectation to reach a final destination is never met and questions the need for an end point. On the exhibition, Suh explains that, “we tend to focus on the destination all the time and forget about the inbetween spaces”. You move straight from Suh’s connected hallway to another very small open room where his video pieces My Home/s, 2014-2016 and Passage/s, 2013- 2015 are played on loop, continuing this sensation of travelling through an endless space. It alludes to the present and future of the artist as he continues to travel between countries and homes.

Any books/ films/tv series that you would recommend for someone interested in art?

I would 100% recommend the moving film, ‘Frida’ that documents Frida Kahlo’s life. This artist was particularly important to me during my younger years of art. As both an artist and a woman Kahlo is an inspiration.

What is your dream project?

I dream to create something of a large scale and immersive, whether this be a solo project or with a team of likeminded creatives.

What is your most successful piece of work and why?

Each piece is a building block for the next, and I see how each is individually important for my development, so I hope my most successful piece will forever be the next one I create.

Find out more about T’Shah’s work here.

Read about all the Ones to Watch artists here.

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