Henry Rice

University: Hereford Collage of Art

Graduation: 2016

Genre: Fine Art

Websitewww.henryrice.co.uk

Artist Statement

Mapping

I have tried to encapsulate what it is to remember a place; the journey that was undertaken, the sights, the sounds, the memory. The memory however is never a clear image or a solid static representation. Memory twists and warps over time and upon reflection the details though to be unremarkable suddenly appear to be critical, and the essential becomes unimportant.

To try and express this, I have comprised an image out of photos collected on same day from the same location. Fused together they become a confusing medley that expresses the memory of the place.

Ledbury from the series Mapping

Ledbury from the series Mapping

Viewing

When I saw the Mona Lisa in person for the first time I could not help but feel underwhelmed. I knew the face of the woman staring back at me but the intimacy was lost. I concluded that this was because I have seen her face repeatedly on TV and computer screens, which had become my definitive image of the painting. So I explored the positives and negatives of viewing oil paintings in this format; the celebration of accessibility, the image breaking out of the confines of the elites’ private collections and free for all with the internet.

The poignant change of the image, by being framed in the mundane and to a scale the artist never intended.

From the series Viewing

From the series Viewing

Where did you attend university and what year did you graduate? I attended Hereford Collage of Art and completed my three year course in 2016, I wanted to study somewhere that have good tutor student interaction, many of the larger institutions only offered one on one time with a tutor once every two weeks. It is also in a beautiful geographical location, near the Brecon Beacons, Forest of Dean and the wilds of Wales. 

Currently Hereford is campaigning for City of Culture 2021, I think it would be well deserved in receiving this honour, as not only does the college produce a range of art from the local area, there is a thriving music scene, local food and much more. 

What are some of your standout moments from your time at university? The greatest most standout moments are often small and quiet, reading a book I never heard of in the library and gazing out of a window as the clouds pass by the mountains in the distance, leaving their shadows, recolour it's face. Going to the Foam Gallery in Amsterdam displaying work by Richard Mosse, it was harrowing and superbly executed.

There was also a yearly descent upon one of the local towns or villages by the photography course, organised by one of the course leaders Alex Timm. He has been documenting the local area using the process as a teaching experience for the students.

Lilooet from the series Mapping

Lilooet from the series Mapping

Which photographic genre do you consider your work to fall into? My work is under the vast umbrella of 'fine art'. I work digitally but I don't know the sub genre my work fits into as I think I currently bridge a few different styles.

What themes do you find yourself exploring? I don't have a constant theme throughout my works, I have my own style. I explore ideas that I find interesting, and express them in my own style, in a way I believe to be relatable and interesting to the viewer. For my first two projects poetry was the driving force and theme, in my third project memory and place, in my forth cultural adaptation of art over time.

I have always had a fascination with technology and human behaviour however, and I'm sure this bleeds into my work. For example, recently I have become very interested in the way people interact on social media in relation to political debate; there is often a greater honesty, more involvement but far less interaction between opposing viewpoints. However this is not a new behaviour created by new communication platforms, the platforms only highlight how we go about discussing important issues of the time.

Can you tell us about your MA? What's encouraged you to continue your studies? What are you hoping to achieve from this year? I will be doing a part time MA at Westminster in the coming year, so it will be 2018 when I fully graduate. I am hoping to gain more information, refine my practice and enjoy myself. Studying something you love is pleasurable and rewarding. 

From the series Viewing

From the series Viewing

Your work is very personal and meaningful. How do you go about getting your ideas across in a new body of work? It depends on the body of work, nothing I have found myself doing has followed a set formula. Mapping came about quite suddenly; I was playing around with some of my oldest photos I had rediscovered on a hard drive, I found no one image encapsulated the visit for me so I attached a few to one image creating a three dimensional image. This resulted in a journey of that day in one image. At this moment I had the idea and the work coming together organically. It was then a case of working out what worked, what didn't, and how to get images that captured the essence, the vibe of the place and the day.

With Viewing however, I started with the concept, I understood what I wanted to express, but not how to express it. Discussion, reading, trial and error. Being brutally honest with my work, that was key to achieving a body of work that I can look at today, and feel has expressed something simply but with depth and clarity.

Did you utilise any standout theoretical influences when making MappingAs I have said, Mapping happened very organically. There will be texts and ideas that come through by osmosis, but its creation was guttural. My knowledge of psychology though had to have been an influence. My sister gave me her A level text books and I enjoyed reading them for fun. I remember how police only accept a witness statement given within the first twenty four hours of an incident. This is because when we recount a memory we subconsciously change it, adding in details or removing details. If you extrapolate this, when you recall a fond or painful memory you distort and amend it, allowing for one memory to change dramatically over time, so how can one static image represent a memory of a place.

What do you hope for your viewer to learn about the accessibility of oil paintings through your series Viewing? It's not just the accessibility and how it's now available for everyone if you know what to Google. It is how we, as a culture, view art from our perspective and not the perspective of those who created or viewed it from their time. In the times when art galleries were only open to the upper classes, the middle classes had paintings but treated them like silverware, they remained hidden under blankets so the light would not damage them, only revealed when they were hosting. The upper class littered the walls with paintings as a show of grandeur and wealth. The artist who painted these images knew where they might be placed and painted them accordingly. This however has been lost, so we view them now in an unnatural setting, on the screen or in the museum.

Seoul from the series Mapping

Seoul from the series Mapping

For both bodies of work featured here, how do you go about making the images themselves? I use a different approach for each of the bodies of work, the biggest similarity is great amount of time and patience.

With Mapping, some images can be like a bolt of lightning that you channel onto the screen, others are stubborn you can feel that there is an image hidden in the chaos but it is reluctant to reveal itself. It took almost a month to conclude on Seoul while Squamish was completed in a number of hours.

Viewing is mostly about choosing the painting; it has to have a narrative and be complementary with the meaning. Then editing.

I enjoy editing, listening to music and accompanied with a hot beverage and losing myself to the task.

Squamish from the series Mapping

Squamish from the series Mapping

How did you go about selecting paintings to use to create viewing? Firstly I wanted to find paintings that where not well known, if someone had already seen the painting in whatever setting previously then the impact of seeing it in this format I constructed for it would be dampened. Then I wanted all of the images when they came together to speak to one other as a collection, but also have a narrative of their own. So it was the drama within the image and the story that the original artist displayed and how the viewer would perceive it with its context removed.

Are there any books you've read that have really influenced your work? A few books that have influenced my work are, Tractatus Logico-Philosophics by Wittgenstein, Digimodernism by Kirby and the classics of photography - Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Benjamin and Ways of Seeing by the late, great John Burger.

I am currently reading Tao of Photography by Gross and Shapiro, and the philosophy of the receptive photographer without expectation of the subject, I think is an important lesson for all photographers to remember.

From the series Viewing

From the series Viewing

Do you have any big creative goals for the future? Big creative goals currently are simply to continue to produce my work. I have several projects that I am playing around with and need further work and inspiration to be of a level I would be happy with showing.

Apart from that I will be completing my MA in the coming years, expanding my knowledge and refining my practice.

I would like to visit China. There is something about the extremes of the country that appeal to me, to have lakes covered with giant trenching machinery on a backdrop of newly built city, surrounded by natural beauty.