New Contemporaries showcases some of the most dynamic work being made by emerging artists. Established in 1949, it has helped boost the careers of artists such as Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, Paula Rego and David Hockney. This is the first year the organisation has profiled talent from alternative as well as formal learning programmes. It’s also the first time the touring exhibition has been launched at the Liverpool School of Art and Design.
Sam Henty is hoping being chosen as a New Contemporaries artist for 2018 will help his career in the same way as some of those who’ve come before him: “The alumni are some of the greatest British contemporary artists, such as David Hockney and Damien Hirst. I hope that being part of this will get my name out and attract more interest.”
Like many artists, Sam’s interest in art began at an early age: “I was always making stuff, and drawing and painting as a child. In high school, my art teacher mentioned the Leeds College of Art foundation course which stuck with me and was the thing I decided I wanted to do.”
When it came time to taking his studies to the next level he is glad he chose to study at LJMU for his BA in Fine Art: “I loved the variety of intellectual knowledge, ideas, and different perspectives from tutors and other art students. LJMU taught me how to put on a show, how to work with other people, how to display work, and to show it off to its full potential. I gained a lot from it. I had a difficult choice between LJMU and St Martins College in London, but I can definitely say I made the right choice.”
Being based in a city known for its creativity contributed to his development as an artist. “Liverpool is fantastic, and I think one of the best cities to study art. It has several major galleries and a growing number of small independent galleries. There is such a massive art scene, it’s hard not to be around art in this city – there’s the Liverpool Biennial for one, which is the biggest Biennial in Europe. It is a vibrant city, teeming with inspiration and creativity.”
Now that he’s established himself in the art world, what advice would he give to students who are hoping to find success as an artist?
“Go to as many shows as you possibly can, talk to everyone. Networking is a huge asset. The more you do, and the more you network, the further you will get. Keep going with your practice and always go with your gut feeling. It’s also important to apply to everything you can, such residencies, competitions and shows; just get yourself out there and talk to other artists.”
The art of Sam Henty
'The Jupon' worn by Eddard Harkens at the Battle of Bosworth Field. The jupon would have been worn over the armour as protection and as a status symbol with the Yorkshire Rose and the Harken Ram covering the velvet coat.
“My practice follows a series of narratives spliced into historical timelines, each narrative being part of an ever-expanding family tree of personas. Most of my work exists as an archival collection documenting the series of anachronistic autobiographies, through the ever-developing object-based archive. Using textile, printing, painting and clothing I give the archive verisimilitude while using satirical playfulness to encompass the collection.
“Through these complex fictional narratives, I am able to explore my own personality and imagined alter egos as an extension of myself. In this way, I am able to create different styles of work under the guise of another persona, which provides limitless creativity.”
'The Days before Bosworth' is an etching depicting the court at Castle Harkton prior to the Battle of Bosworth Field. Eddard Harken, centre, is being paid homage by men-at-arms and ladies of the court. Theodore Harken, the heir, is in the foreground leading the way.
Where does Sam get his inspiration from?
“I get a lot of inspiration from film, literature and historical documentaries. If anything catches my eye, I will research it. For example, I was inspired to create a reproduction of a medieval jupon after watching a BBC documentary about a team recreating the jupon worn by Edward of Woodstock, the Black Prince. It took months of work to complete, but it fascinated me and opened up new, fresh inspiration.”