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Henry’s narrative wood carvings invoke a world far from home

Today we’re talking to woodcarver Henry Neville, who infuses narrative into his detailed wood carvings to give them a mysterious, other-worldly feel.

Read the full interview below, and be sure to follow Henry on Instagram to see more of his work!

What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?

  • Henry Neville astronaut 2
  • Henry Neville astronaut 1
  • Henry Neville waterboy 2
  • Henry Neville waterboy 1

I make sculptures using traditional green wood working techniques, mostly with just an axe, saw, knife and gouges.

I like to make up short open narratives and then create work around them. Currently I’m working on a project called ‘We went to Mars and it was a disaster’. It ties into my interest with future space industries and the possibility of colonising and terraforming other planets.

I don’t particularly have a favourite, although these two astronauts I completed recently are very pleasing. They represent two of the crew members trying to terraform the Red planet.

I love imagining their different functions, and although it’s not immediately apparent the individualised suits and helmets give away slight hints. 

Tell us about your workshop

Henry Neville workshop
Photo credit: Henry Neville

My workshop is a big piece of linen. I lay it on the floor to catch wood chips and do all the work whilst on a little wooden chair. Because of a lack of space and no workbench I have had to figure out how to work from my lap.

On nice days I go and sit in an allotment up the road where I can axe out rough shapes amongst kale and courgette plants.

How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?

I started carving ten years ago, then went on to work for a lovely old French Canadian woodworker named Pierre on an Island in the Swedish Archipelago. 

Read also: 12 essential woodworking tools for beginners: Start your woodshop right

Afterwards I set up a homeware workshop in Melbourne before returning back to London. I’m mostly self taught, working it out as I go. 

Any advice for beginners to your craft?

Carving and beers always ends in tears. 

Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?

I’m constantly inspired by what I find in museums, a recent trip to the Capitoline Museum blew my mind.

Also just getting out into Nature, I’m a country boy living in the city so to return to the woods or the sea is nice.

As for carvers, currently I am following Taku Obata, who carves these really fantastic futuristic b-boys and Aleph Geddis, a master of shape and form.

I’m also working on a fun project with @hijadenada who makes wonderful hats and working on some brushes with the brilliant @grainandknot

Read also: Stephen takes ideas from the tiny homes movement for his 8×6 Workshop

Anything else you’d like to share?

I just got back from an attempt to cycle from Sicily back to London.  Along the way I picked up a ton of materials and saw some incredible things that are beginning to inspire my work.

My favourite finds are a piece of maple from outside Rome and a beautiful piece of granite from the top of a Swiss mountain.

Find and follow more of Henry’s work on his Instagram feed.

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