Belynda Henry 'Further Afield'

As far back as Belynda Henry can remember, the natural landscape has served as her major focus and inspiration. As a young arts student, her journals were filled with the shapes and forms of her environment - pared back to capture the essence of the natural world. Early in her career these sketches were realised in flat, almost two dimensional sculptural works, though painting always beckoned.

Working from her home in a quiet valley in Northern New South Wales, Henry’s practice incorporates plein air and studio-based painting, as well as a rugged process of drenching her canvases in freshwater that recalls American artist Helen Frankenthaler’s (1928-2011) ‘soak-stain technique’. Henry drags her unstretched canvases through the creek that runs through her property, before laying them out on the grass or concrete causeway to dry as she works in watercolour and pigment to capture her first impressions of the landscape. No longer damp, the canvases are returned to the studio and stretched so that Henry can continue to build composition, layering oil paint and wax as she reinterprets the landscape through a veil of memory and personal contemplation. The lack of illusionistic space enhances the textures and tonal colours in the work, alluding to vast sweeping treelines, gullies and waterways, to capture the atmosphere and energy of being immersed in, and embraced by nature.

Belynda Henry is an alumna of the Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), University of Sydney, completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 1993. A finalist in multiple art awards including the Archibald Prize (2016), the Wynne Prize (2016, 2015, 2013) and the Paddington Art Prize (2018, 2017), she has exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia and internationally.

Carrie McCarthy 2022