Michelle Henry is an artist and teacher who holds drawing as the foundation of her practice. Michelle graduated in 1989 from the newly formed College of Fine Arts (COFA UNSW) with a Bachelor of Art Education and has taught Art, Design, Media studies and Film and Television at private and public schools in both Sydney and Brisbane. She has been teaching Visual Arts part time at Mosman High School since 2018.
Michelle most often paints the flower as a metaphor, exploring themes of love, lust and longing as intrinsic to the human condition. Never needing to look far for visual inspiration, Michelle photographs and draws flowers wherever she can. These become reference points for further investigations in paint. Her images can come from her own yard, her mother’s garden, local walks, overseas and interstate trips, or bouquets given for special occasions. Working in thin layers of oil paint built up through scumbling and glazing, Michelle constructs the surface to suggest the subtle play of light on and through the petals, leaves and structure of each plant.
Her interest in the language of love has seen her scour diverse literary sources from the bible, ancient Greek, Indian and Australian poetry and Shakespeare, to Denis Diderot’s love letters to his mistress for the evocative titles, which accompany her work. For her, the strength of her practice lies in this combination of image and title.
Now living in Balmain, Michelle has been exhibiting her work regularly since 2014 with shows in Brisbane, Sydney and at the Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens. She has held successful exhibitions at Art Gallery on Darling each year as a visiting artist before being invited to join the gallery as a resident artist. Michelle is also a resident artist at the sister gallery, Art Gallery on Palm Beach.
Michelle Henry’s work can be found in collections in Australia, New Zealand, France and Canada and she has been shortlisted for national competitions across Australia, including the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize, the Lethbridge 10000 Small Scale Art Awards, the Mosman Art Prize, the Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, the Calleen Art Awards, and the Kennedy Art Prize. In 2020 she was the winner of the Inverell Art Prize.