Clarksdale Artist in Residence Mecca

Featuring visiting Australian Artist Eric Henshall, son of Clarksdale Champion John Henshall

"Chez Nous (Portrait of Monique)" by ©Eric Henshall 2014

“Chez Nous (Portrait of Monique)” by ©Eric Henshall 2014


Clarksdale, Mississippi


Buildings all over Clarksdale beg to become sanctuaries for artists in residence. In the meantime, while entrepreneurs like Charles Evans, who is renovating and converting several spaces along Sunflower Avenue for one such purpose, our artists in residence and visiting artists in residence must take up shop wherever they can find it. Good light. Low cost. Both prerequisites.

Australian Eric Henshall has been in Clarksdale going on six weeks plus now. He found a simple apartment to squat in, literally, due to no furniture, and has found a spot to create, following his daily excursions around town on foot. He calls himself a ‘modern-day Impressionist’ and I believe he is right. 

Eric’s work moves me. I recently told him his work reminds me of my favorite painter Edgar Degas. Both artists are able to capture a reflection of the world around them with their paints and brushes. Henshall loves my favorite Degas piece, ‘Apres le Bain’ but he especially likes the master’s “ballerina pieces – so much beauty and grace and movement, and of course lovely colours,” he told me.

In perusing the website, I rested on a masterpiece which captured me and now won’t let go. Knowing he had spent time painting in Paris last year, I asked Eric if he imagined the piece while there. Here is what he had to say.

“I think the reasons I like that particular painting so much are… well, yes it very succinctly sums up a time in my life when I was very happy in so many different ways, but also the colours are beautiful and glowing. I’m quite pleased with the composition – the strong verticals of the window frame draw your eye forcefully down onto Monique, then the ironing board (my little studio table) pushes the eye back up so that it creates a very small and contained world. The fact that the buildings outside are all on different (and incorrect) perspectives makes their purply-blue bulk even more alienating and therefore makes the little orange-yellow room even more comforting. And amidst all the crazy dutch-angles, Monique is just sitting, serenely drawing – peace.”

Most of the paintings Eric has done while here in Clarksdale have either been sold or are for sale at Hambone Art Gallery in downtown Clarksdale. When he returns home to Melbourne in the coming weeks, he will continue to recount his life experiences here on canvas. Visit his website and watch for these modern-day masterpieces when he puts them up for the world to see….and buy.

Would that more artists know and come to be a Clarksdale Artist in Residence. Clarksdale is an artist in residence mecca. Gritty visual stimulation abounds.

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Australian visiting artist in residence Eric Henshall in his Clarksdale studio.

Australian visiting artist in residence Eric Henshall in his Clarksdale studio.

Edgar Degas masterpiece 'Apres le Bain' rests at JEU DE PAUME in Paris

Edgar Degas masterpiece ‘Apres le Bain’ rests at JEU DE PAUME in Paris

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