The Potential of Pattern: Interview with Henry Gonnet

Find out more about The Potential of Pattern exhibitor Henry Gonnet in our artist interview!

October 15th, 2020

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We caught up with Potential of Pattern artist Henry Gonnet to find out about him and his work!


What is the process involved in making your work? 

Primarily my work is made using Processing, which is a programming language and IDE created by Casey Reas (an artist) and Ben Fry (an engineer) geared for use in the visual arts.

I use a lot of layers of random number generators and inputs in my work, which produce unpredictable results beyond the realms of my own control. I structure these in my code to create my artworks. It could be said that my process is literally organising chaos – and I often draw comparisons between my methodology and the writing of musical scores.

My work manifests in many different forms – I make physical objects, projections, video work, sound, and interactive installations. In my current work I have blended all these aspects together to make a single generative experience, which is proving to be a very interesting experiment!

What does a typical day look like for you in the studio? (or not!?) 

Sit down at my desk, pot of coffee, write code & experiment. Also, I fabricate all my physical work by hand – so there is quite a lot of sawing, cutting paper with scalpels, creation of projection screens, and experimentation with whatever wacky hardware setup I plan to use. It is a real fun mix of working at a computer, DIY, and playing about with lots of cables.

Describe your studio – where is it /what do you have in it/ is it tidy? 

My studio… It’s a mess to be honest. Up until recently I held a studio at BALTIC 39 in Newcastle, but even then I did a lot of my work sat at home in my office (with my cat) on a desktop computer I built.

My “home studio” is littered with bits of wood, paper, books, guitars, cables, and notebooks. I have a shelf next to my desk that would fall over if not for the old reconstructed circular saw I have placed on top of it to weigh it down. It is odd that despite this untidiness I know where everything is and everything has its own home. I guess you could call it a holistic approach to organisation!

In contrast to this, all my artworks are obsessively clean cut & tidy. Even the slightest imperfection in a piece of work drives me to absolute distraction.

How did you get into coding? 

Before I went on to my undergraduate degree I spent a year at Newcastle College doing a UAL foundation diploma in Art & Design specialising in ceramics, so the transition to coding was a little bit of a strange U-turn!

During my first year at Leeds Arts University I was introduced for the first time to using software such as Adobe Photoshop and Blender, and I started experimenting with making my work digitally. These basic programs did not hold my interest for long, and within a year I was creating my own computers and writing my own software. It all kind of spiralled a bit out of control from there… But in a good way!

You exhibited with us in Ones to Watch – what have you been up to since then? 

Since I exhibited at Ones to Watch at Sunny Bank Mills in 2017 I have been quite busy really…

Firstly, I completed my undergraduate degree in Fine Art at Leeds Arts University in 2018 – at the end of which I was selected for the Aon Community Art award, and as a result of this I exhibited artwork at the Leadenhall Building in London for a year. I also helped to manage, market, and participated in Leeds Arts University’s entry into Free Range Art Week in London 2018 (where we won multiple awards including the top prize for best collective).

Henry at Baltic 39

For the past two years I have been living in Newcastle Upon Tyne studying my Master of Fine Art degree at the BxNU Institute (a joint venture between BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Northumbria University). As I write this it is the second day of my second exhibition with BALTIC at BALTIC 39, which I am thrilled is still able to happen (with the appropriate safety measures in place) despite the ongoing pandemic!

 What’s next?

Who knows what’s next? We live in such uncertain times! However, I like to remain positive about the future.

I’m currently still living up in Newcastle with my partner in crime Holly Standen (who is a fantastic performance artist, look her up!). Given that we’ve both just completed our master’s degrees we are very much looking forward to evolving our separate arts practices independent of educational institutions, and perhaps even working on some collaborative projects together.

The current plan is to move back to Leeds as soon as we can, as we love the art scene in and around the city – so you’ll possibly be seeing a lot more of us in the future!


Find out more about Henry’s work on his website here.

Find out more about The Potential of Pattern here.

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