Henry Neville Wood (Hen) is an artist from the Isle of Man. Working with sustainably sourced green wood, he uses traditional craft techniques to produce balanced pieces as well as his signature ‘explorers’. Always with a taste for adventure Hen has produced work on tiny Swedish Islands, at the top of Bulgarian mountains and in Australian barns. His work reflects his love of meditation, adventure and nature.
We are excited to be working with Hen on a new commission ‘Jim Thompson’ which will be on display at our upcoming WOW!house installation at Design Centre Chelsea Harbour.
Jim Thompson by Henry Neville Wood
On Sunday March 26th 1967, while holidaying in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, Jim went for a walk and never returned. His disappearance triggered one of the largest search operations in the region, with 400 men dispatched to search. However, the body of Jim Thompson was never found. Abounding theories surrounded his disappearance, ranging from kidnapping, assassination, tiger attacks and suggestions that he simply lost his way. While Jim Thompson may be synonymous with elegant silk, the name is equally well known for the legendary disappearance that continues to mystify to this day.
Join us as we ‘Meet The Maker’ and introduce to you Hen and his incredible works..
Is it a coincidence that your surname is ‘Wood’ and you work with wood, or have you always just loved the medium?
It’s just a coincidence, although my brother turned out to be a tree surgeon as well so I do wonder sometimes. I’ve always just thought of wood as a brilliant versatile material. It’s fun working with something that moves, twists, cracks and gives you so many different colours, patterns and textures.
What’s your favourite tree?
Can I say sycamore? People regard sycamores as a bit of a weed but I think they are beautiful. They remind me of home and the wood is creamy and lovely to work with. After that I love the mighty elm. There’s not many left in the UK however they are still abundant here (Isle of Man).
Can you tell us a bit about your explorers? Where do you get the inspiration for their adventures? We know some have been known to travel as far as Mars…
The explorers are fun ethereal figures who embody the spirit of adventure and the unknown. I’m fascinated with the idea of going to Mars, it’s a new age of exploration. The thought of humans colonising such an inhospitable planet is both fascinating and terrifying, but good on them. I’ve been creating pieces that explore this idea, it’s been fun carving Mars expedition members. There’s also some of the architecture you might expect, transmission towers, satellites and Mars anomalies picked up on their adventures up there. I just love playing with shape and form, so I’m informed alot by the environments around me. I take from everything from folklore to future technologies.
You have started to make interior pieces like mirrors and furniture, is this the direction you hope to move into?
Yes, it’s been a natural progression. The mirrors came from these wall pieces I have been playing with. I find the idea of scaling up some of my pieces and adapting them into pieces of furniture really exciting. Furniture offers new challenges and a different set of rules.
Do you have advice for anyone who wants to make the leap into being a full time artist?
Maybe ‘hold it all like boiled fish’, that’s my dad’s expression. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with creating work and running a business. Make time for yourself away from the studio. Also don’t feel like you have to be full time to be a success, you can run your practice alongside a fulfilling regular job.
When a piece is commissioned how does the process work?
When someone wants a piece commissioned they usually get in touch and arrange a time to chat. I love to hear their ideas. I’m such a people person, it’s fun listening to their inspirations, tales and takes on things. Mood boards are a great way to communicate different ideas and so I usually start with lots of imagery before drawing up designs. Once this is given the ‘A-okay’, I get to source wood and start chopping. It’s an intuitive process and things change all the time. A lot of my work is modular so pieces move and get changed as I try to create a sense of balance. I regularly give updates and take on feedback. It’s an enriching process.
What is a day in your life like at home in the Isle of Man?
The day starts with a run along the coast. I live on the south coast of the island. Imagine limestone headlands, windswept beaches and little fishing villages. After a run I’ll jump in the sea for a quick chilly swim before heading over to my workshop. Ideally I’d end every day with a fire on the beach, but it rains a lot so the pub or a good book is enough.
We are thrilled to be able to share some of Hen’s journey in wood carving with you and look forward to seeing the new directions his work takes in the future. Join Hen on Instagram and keep in touch with his projects here: