Anna May Henry’s uncanny gouache renderings ask the viewer to get up-close and personal with the everyday food items that populate our grocer’s shelves, items you’ve noticed a hundred times before but have never really seen. Look even closer and you’ll find laced throughout the packaging the artist’s laments, wishes, crushed dreams and bright hopes. “I’m so tired,” says the crinkly Ramen package, waiting to be opened after a hard day’s work. And then there’s that last can of beans in the cupboard, cheerily declaring, “You’re going to be just fine.”
Beyond the pure delight of Henry’s colourful detailed work, she is giving us tools to keep on keeping on, even while practicing one’s art and living below the poverty line.
“If you are what you eat then you are what you can afford to eat. Goblin Market offers packaged and consumable feelings that are born from an impoverished identity. Using self-improvement rhetoric and affirmation-like phraseology, Anna May Henry explores feelings of desperation and low self-worth that come along with living below the poverty line. There is abundance to be found amidst scarcity, luxury in the little things and joy in the experience of gratitude: whatever the bounty may be.” – Goblin Market.
Also an excellent portraitist, Henry did the cover art for her brother Tom Henry’s comedy album. Here she turns her keen eye and ability to capture in gouache not only her subjects’ features but their personality as well. As Glenn Sumi observed in an album review: “Tom Henry’s expressionless physical presence…is captured in the excellent album cover illustration, a riff on police suspect drawings.” (NOW magazine. May 2018). But there are no portraits on display at Goblin Market, at least not of the eyes-ears-nose kind. There may be a self-portrait titled “Confetti Crispo”—the jury is still out on that. But the ruling is confirmed that this young artist has tremendous talent.
Goblin Market is on until November 30 at Likely General (398 Roncesvalles Avenue). Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m to 6 p.m.. Opening is tonight, November 9, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Follow Anna May Henry on Instagram.