Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Desmond Paul Henry

Serpent by Desmond Paul Henry, V&A collection
Just heard about the Desmond Paul Henry exhibition which is opening at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester this week.
I hadn't heard of him or his work before so when I googled his name I was confronted a bit surprised as to why I hadn't, here is a bit of a biog on the man taken from the V&A site to give you a bit of background:

Following service in the Second World War as a technical clerk in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Desmond Paul Henry took a degree in Philosophy at the University of Leeds. He went on to teach at the University of Manchester, where he remained until his retirement in 1982.
Henry had attended evening art classes prior to the war, and remained fascinated by both art and technology. In the early 1950s he purchased a remaindered Analogue Bombsight, a machine previously used by fighter pilots for accurate bombing of targets. Henry adapted this device to create a drawing machine. His first exhibition of machine-made drawings was at the Reid Gallery in London, in 1962, and it brought Henry and his machines considerable publicity.
Henry continued to create and experiment with new drawing machines throughout his life, and in 2002 Henry developed his fifth drawing machine, based around a pendulum design.
The drawings created by Henry's drawing machine are beautiful frail veils of lines that bring to mind old bank notes and x-rays. He first used biros then added colour by adding different inks to tubular pens. What I love the more I read about him and his work is the way that these drawings were born out of two passions which are rarely twinned; engineering and art! Looking at a machine and noticing it's mechanical, ticks and turns, it's swings and shudders and then thinking about capturing this as a physical line is jump of genius that is explored more in art (see Yves Klein – Cosmogonie series) and that is being carried on by designers like Jon Maeda today.

Here are a few more of Henry's images you can find his website here and the exhibition at MOSI runs from now until the 7 May.

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