Who was Desmond Paul Henry?

Desmond Paul Henry (1921–2004) was a Manchester University Lecturer and Reader in Philosophy (1949–82). And what did he have to do with art? He was one of the first in Britain to experiment with machine-generated visual effects in the 1960s. The Hero image shows him with one of his machines. And here is one of his early images titled Assassination. Henry made three drawing machines using modified bombsight analogue computers which had been used during WWII to calculate the accurate release of bombs onto their targets. He later made two more machines based on a mechanical pendulum design. Here are a couple more of his images though I don't know from what time period.

Whilst reading about D.P.Henry I discovered a most delicious fact. Mr Henry's artistic career was launched in 1961 by Laurence Stephen Lowry in collaboration with a Mr Frape who was the then director of Salford Art Gallery. The works and style of Lowry have had more influence on my own style of painting than any other artist since being introduced to his works when I was very young. So I became curious to know what was the link between a man producing computerised images as seen above and Lowry who is famous for his paintings of the people of the Manchester region as shown here in A Village Square. Both men were Mancunians which is, of course, a good start. And I have heaps of Mancunian DNA myself so we are all getting alone just fine.

It seems the relationship started when Henry won a local competition in 1961 (called London Opportunity) at the Salford Art Gallery which is now part of Greater Manchester. The images Henry submitted weren't machine drawn being described as small imaginative works in coloured ink.The prize was a one-man exhibition in London at the Reid Gallery and both Lowry and Mr. Reid encouraged Henry to include his machine-generated images in this one-man show.

Unfortunately I can't locate images Henry submitted for the Reid Gallery Exhibition. However, this image was produced in 1962 so gives us an idea of what they might have been like.

But what about Lowry? He knew of course how crucial such a London show could be in publicising an artist's work and was obviously respectful of abstract art even though he was a realist. Accounts I have read state that Lowry visited Henry's home to view his range of work. I will leave you with this one last image produced by Desmond Paul Henry.

If you would like to know more here is a link to the website for Desmond Paul Henry

Where to next? I'm sticking with this mathematical theme and thought it was time to go sideways, upside down, every which way and blog about M.C.Escher Talk to you all tomorrow and thank you so much for the support of my Blog and the comments. Keep them coming.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on anewman@netspace.net.au or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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