Adelaide-based artist Henry Stentiford has an astounding ability to interpret everyday experiences and transform them into a detailed observation of youth culture in South Australia. At only 23, he has completed an impressive range of artwork, illustrating humorous and quirky characters to convey an honest and deeply perceptive view of the world.
Henry shows a true sense of pride and admiration towards Adelaide in his work, and the feeling is certainly mutual. He recently won the Design Institute of Australia’s Graduate of the Year Award for graphic design in South Australia, and has been selected to undertake the esteemed residency program at Carclew House for 2016.
We had the pleasure of taking Henry aside from his busy schedule to get an insight into his creative mind.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from other great artists in Adelaide and also from everyday life and good experiences. Things like really good eye contact and really good dancefloors and people who never get wet on rainy days – that’s one of my favourites. I know they’re abstract, but it’s just that general everyday interesting experience I try and channel into my work.
What is your medium of choice, and why?
Mostly I use acrylic paint because it’s quick drying, forgiving and affordable, kind of like a towel. I also like to use felt tip pens on nice paper because that is unforgiving, so it’s a bit more of a challenge, but it’s always a really good challenge. Any design work I do is done first with a felt tip pen, then I colour it in on the computer. Exhibition work is pretty much always acrylic paint. I wouldn’t appreciate them both without each other, but felt-tip pens are probably my preference.
You’ve done an impressive range of artwork, ranging from paintings on canvas and walls, as well as drawings for posters, wine labels, magazines and books. What has been a standout experience?
They’ve all been excellent but the standout would probably be the work I’ve been doing this year with West Thebarton Brothel Party, a local band. It has been a great opportunity to produce a big body of work that has a lot of different applications. We also share a common theme, so work flows quite naturally between us. The shared theme is a reflection on youth culture in a 2016 setting as well as just a general, common story of the everyday Adelaide experience.
Another one of my other favourite experiences has and will continue to be group art shows in Adelaide. It’s great to meet other artists and collaborate with them. Local artists I admire would be Gabriel Cole and Lucas Croall from Beyond Killa, Aida Azin, Angus Hamra and my sister, Maddy Stentiford.
What kinds of changes have you noticed in the Adelaide art industry?
I think that, as with everything, art is now more accessible with social media. Best that I can tell from my short history on this earth, Adelaide has always been a ridiculously good place for art and it sort of just maintains that. I think it’s always expanding and getting better, but I think we’re just part of the never ending great Adelaide art story.
How do you think the residency at Carclew will benefit your art?
I think the residency will be beneficial in a few ways. Working with another artist in a studio setting inspires you to make your own art – it’s really good to be in that environment. Also, Carclew is a very involved art organisation that supports many forms of art around South Australia. They’ve got a lot of opportunities they pass onto you, and people with experience you can get in contact with through them.
What do you think has made your art so successful?
I try to have fun. I also try and communicate a shared experience, something that’s common to everyone. I exaggerate that regular everyday experience, highlighting a somewhat beauty in it if you will, and I think people can relate to this, which is why they like it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working towards exhibition at Carclew for SALA Festival in August, and I’m also designing some labels for friend and local winemaker VHS Wines. Then I’ll continue with ongoing commission work for local bands. As well as West Thebarton Brothel Party, I’m doing artwork for a ripper South Australian band called The Bitter Darlings. I’m also looking to have a solo show at the end of the year. In the future I just want to have more shows, and I also want to paint better shadows.