by Teresa Gleadowe
from Southern Arts No. 23 - March 1976

Heinz Henghes came to Winchester in 1964 and worked for nine years at Winchester School of Art. He joined the school as Head of Fine Art and it was largely through his efforts that Winchester was granted Diploma Status in Painting and Sculpture. Later he resigned as Head of Fine Art to become Head of the Sculpture School. He retired in 1973 and at that time spoke with some acerbity about the role of the artist / teacher: 'Teaching of art is better for the students than for the teachers - the need to provide answers and explain art forces it into a level of intellectual consciousness and the making of art is very little to do with the intellect'. But he was passionately interested in the art school system, believing it to be the only means to a broadly 'humanist' education and an essential alternative to the specialized Curricula of the universities. His teaching was aimed not at training 'artists' but at preparing people to 'see' and `feel' their way through life.

Heinz was a natural teacher and I and many of his friends in Winchester (who were not even formally his students) learned from him throughout the time we knew him. What we learned was not to do with academic knowledge but with a totality of experience which he communicated through everything he did and from which his work was drawn. 'I am born lucky, born to confront and affront the totality of life and to suck from it the personal essence of what I can take and use and have and hold and turn into ... whatever ...drawings ...carvings ... documents of the pleasure of being alive and the rightness of being'.

Heinz Henghes in Winchester. Photo Pete Wallis
I met Heinz when I joined Southern Arts in 1972. He had already contributed to the organisation of a major sculpture show Ten Sculptors, Two Cathedrals, sponsored by the association, and was later to contribute to the exhibition Sculpture at South Hill Park. But my memories are not of exhibitions or indeed of any one piece of sculpture. In an interview in Southern Arts Heinz described a work of art as 'a wide open window onto a full world' and the objects he made were all intended in some way to sharpen one's sense of the matter of life. And equally the way he lived, fed the work. My memories are of his cluttered studio, under the shadow of the cathedral -where he worked and talked and invented extraordinary concoctions from the grime of a filthy stove. His house on a hillside in the Dordogne where he watched warily the changing of the seasons:

'Autumn is holding its breath and the leaves are turning and I know what will happen ... from one day to the next there will be a great storm and it will strip the leaves and the nuts and leave the hills burning red and gold ...' But I also remember arguments, an absurd recurring one about the cathedral - Heinz describing it as an 'empty old barn, squat as a toad', unworthy of comparison with the cathedrals of France and Germany. And I remember his stubbornness and cussedness (it would be uncharitable to forget these things).

Heinz was not a life-long countryman and his enjoyment of the country and of the house in the Dordogne to which he finally retired was that of a traveller finding home. He was not sentimental or romantic about the country and the creatures which inhabited it - he knew that their purpose was to survive and he too was a survivor. There was between them a kind of force and mostly this was peaceful. Not always so: I remember a day when war broke out between him and the lone cricket that sat in the garden's largest tree, with Heinz shaking the tree to bring the cricket down, and the cricket outwitting him to the end.

Heinz compared himself to Voltaire's Candide, settling at last to cultivate his garden. His more exotic adventures were past when I met him-and I knew them only as stories - childhood in Germany. America in the 20s. Italy with Ezra Pound in the 30s. Paris and finally London to show at Peggy Guggenheim's gallery. And the time of experimenting with new materials and styles was also past - increasingly he returned to direct carving in stone and shapes derived from nature and prehistory. 'I have given myself to the reassertion by the simplest physical means possible (carving stone) of values which reassert the power and the glory of the ancient gods ... I am, I have no other means than to be, an agent, a perpetrator of the archaic thing. The fossil, the absolute and the immutable image'.

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