Stephen grew up amongst intensely artistic surroundings, as the youngest of four children. He is the son of renowned photographer and pop- artist Nigel Henderson. His mother Judith was raised in and around the infamous Bloomsbury Group, as a niece of Virginia Woolf. The family moved to the East Essex coast in the 1950s, with Stephen being born shortly afterwards in 1956. Stephen’s teenage years were spent shooting and fishing on the marshes, where he developed a keen eye for the movements and habits of wildfowl and fish. Even today, the workshop and studio at his family home look out across those very same marshes, providing a constant source of inspiration.
Stephen has developed his own painting techniques over time, combining washes of emulsion paints with stained and clear waxes. Together with delicate highlights of silver leaf, these help to create a subtle approximation of scales and feathers. In recent years he has progressed on to larger works, incorporating welded metal armatures and assorted salvaged metal from reclaimed hot water tanks and corrugated iron. Another recent development has been the introduction of fret-cut iron profiles, together with bleached driftwood. This results in a more natural weathered look, suitable for display both outside and in.
“Growing up in South-East England on the Essex Marshes, I developed a love of wildlife in general and of birds and fish in particular. In my work I hope in some way to capture a gesture or attitude that will resonate with the viewer in the same way as it does for me. I try to represent my own emotional response to my subjects rather than pursuing correct anatomical detail.
The biggest influence on my work came from meeting Guy Taplin, and seeing his carvings at first hand in his workshop was a revelation. From my father, I learned to trust my own eyes and delight in the finding of discarded objects, but there were a lot of resonances here with the way Guy had been working. Many found items became trophies in their own right, lifted off the beach or from a wrecked boat or building and given new significance.
My work is inspired by the native shorebirds and fish species of my locality, together with wildlife observed on holidays and travels from around the world. Carving out of pieces of found wood and Eastern White Pine, I mount my work on driftwood and natural weathered timber. I work with themes such as motherhood, courtship and predation, trying to reflect the mannerisms of individual creatures and their personalities.”
Courtesy of the artist’s website.