5 minutes with Kendal Henry – Internationally recognised New York public artist

Kendal is an internationally recognised New York public artist, curator and arts administrator. He’s in town to lead a collaborative community public art project that will involve local artists creating pieces that will be displayed around Footscray. Pieces are expected to start appearing in early October this year.

Kendal Henry at Bluestone

Where did you grow up?

I grew up everywhere but my home is St Lucia in the West Indies. I like to go back in the summers and eat the island fruits. I live in New York which, being a big multicultural city, you can find food from almost every country – except the fruits of St Lucia. I went to the Footscray Market and was amazed to find the St Lucia fruits.

Can you tell us about one of your collaborative public art projects?

Last year I worked with artists and other community minded people on a project in Tajikistan (borders Afghanistan). Water shortages are a major issue for the Tajikistan people but rarely talked about. Water is rationed to one hour per day even though the country has an abundance of water sources, as the country sits below a mountain range. The group chose to develop artworks that examined this issue. One artist made canned water and gave them away, but people couldn’t access the water without an expensive can opener.

What brought you to Melbourne?

Since 1998 I’ve been regularly coming back to Melbourne and watching it evolve. I’m a traveller and I’m fascinated by Melbourne and its people. It is so far from where I’m from. In any perspective this is an intriguing place.

What are your impressions of Footscray?

It reminds me of where I grew up and where I now live. New York is a rainbow of people and food, like Footscray. This is the only place in the world where I feel a connection to my New York home and my old home of St Lucia.

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