Can art change the world highly commended: Suzanne Henry

In Spring 2016 we ran a competition to find 13-25 year olds who are creating art that aims to make a difference. Suzanne Henry was highly commended by the panel.

Can art change the world highly commended: Suzanne Henry

Can you tell us a little about the project that you entered to this competition?

The project was a response to the growing hostility towards Islam and over-generalisation of Muslims. The two pieces were about questioning how tolerant we are as a society, except that tolerance is not afforded to all and conveying the positive, central themes of the religion – peace, liberation and faith.

Was the idea of 'changing the world' something you had considered before the competition?

Yes definitely! Social change has always been a dominant theme in my life from as early as I can remember. I guess being on the receiving end of injustice means you have no choice but to address it, walking away from it is not an option when it affects your being on a daily basis.


Why do you think it's important that art attempts to bring about change?

All of the arts can be a vehicle for change in that they are often a form of social commentary and personal growth. Change is taking place all the time and I think it is important to remember however big or small, looking inwards or at a global level - it all matters! There is power in the arts, for the artist and for the viewer.

Do you have a favourite piece of art — in any art form — that really changed the world for you?

Lots! What stands out is the poem 'Children learn what they live' by Dorothy Nolte. It helped me make sense of things early on.

When did you start making art?

I was always drawing with my twin sister as a kid. This never changed and we still help inspire each other. By GCSE level I started to develop my own ideas and connect with art as a personal expression. I was pleasantly surprised to be awarded for my final piece which was about looking at the world through the eyes of someone living with anorexia.

What else are you up to right now?

I've been volunteering at a social enterprise so that I can learn more about organic food, and be out in the community. I've also really enjoyed seeing behind the scenes and filming for a friend's music video recently - check out Jungle Brown! Plus I'll be going to India in July as a teaching assistant.


What would be your ideal project to work on?

I would love to bring art, social justice and community together through social enterprise in my home town, particularly because there's such little opportunity for young people and people in general where I grew up.

What can we expect from you in the next year or so? Do you have any plans for new projects?

I am researching foundation courses and scholarships as one possible avenue so that I can continue where I left off and explore other mediums more intensively. Visibility, violence against women and refugees are all subjects I've had inspiration for recently.



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