Nicola Henshaw

Nicola Henshaw

A love for narrative forms is key to Nicola’s work: She tells stories through wood, drawing on universal fables and folktales, passed down through generations. It is the animal characters that she enjoys most: the cunning fox, who is often outwitted, the wise stork, or the foolish hen.

Her workshop is rooted in the heart of the New Forest, where she sources her timber for carving. She uses gouge chisels, which have been her companions for making for more than 20 years. Made from New Forest oak, her work is inspired by the 18th century tapestries and prints of a pre-camera era, with its quirky representation of oversized animals.

The bookshelves in her studio display the threads of inspiration for her work: Rows of sketchbooks noting the particular and peculiar habits of animals. Notebooks from trips to the British Museum and the V&A, where she studied ceramic collections, tapestries and textiles. Countless books of fables, fairy stories and provers as well as children book illustrations from the 60’s and 70’s. Scrap books and photos tell the stories of her travels: to India, where she looked at texture, colour and pattern and Africa, where she spent her formative years and was captivated by masks, simple forms, carvings and naturally, the wildlife.

She studied Three Dimensional Design at Wolverhampton University, specialising in wood and metalwork. On graduating, she received a Crafts Council Grant to set up her first studio in London where she worked for 12 years. She has exhibited nationally and internationally and has had work commissioned by a wide range private, corporate and public clients, including Forestry England and the National Trust. She has created a range of fun, animal inspired furniture for both inside and out, including; boxes, benches, seating and tables.

Public Art for Thame

Currently Nicola is undertaking a Public Art commission for Thame Town Council to create trails around Thame that will bring the towns heritage and history to life at the same time as encouraging people to walk more. Find out more here

Nicola’s work – including details of the Public Art project she is leading on for Thame –  can be seen at Thame Library, North Street, from 10 – 16 October