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04 Sep 2021

Article by Jamie Lundy

We were in Conwy, Wales and it was raining heavily, so my parents decided to take me to the pictures. I remember being petrified as Luke Skywalker removed the black helmet from Darth Vader. It was 1983, Return of the Jedi was the film and I was about five years old.

Of course, I’d not watched the other two films yet, the original “Star Wars” and “Empire Strikes Back”, but it wouldn’t be long. I was completely hooked and subsequently spent the whole holiday running around the holiday camp, swinging my make-shift lightsaber.

As the dark swept in, the caravan lamps glowed amber against the blackness of night and clearly for me that meant this was the Empire’s base. If your mind let you, as mine did back then, you could just make out Storm Troopers moving around inside. As I got within 10 paces of the Empires base prepping for attack, the whole charade came crashing down when I heard my mum suddenly open the caravan door and call me in for tea, quietly turning to my campsite comrades, passing them the broken stick light sabre I’d found “I will be back tomorrow”, I said, head bowed. Then I was gone.

From those days I would be transfixed by action figures. The early 80’s was an era when Kenner and Palitoy took over the global market with Action Force and Star Wars. Then there was M.A.S.K, GI Joe, He-Man, Transformers, Micro-machines, Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots and more….The 80’s must of been the best toy era ever!

I loved toy figures. Having epic battles all over the house or in the garden. If I knew then what I know now regarding value, then I may have looked after them a little better, I didn’t of course.

Being imaginative, creative and collecting figures was my thing. As I’m now approaching my mid 40’s I collect all kinds from expensive ornament figurines to 12-inch Hot Toys through to the creme de la creme vintage Star Wars.

Talking about this one day to my friend over in the States (David Gensler), he suggested I look up a gentleman called Henry Neville Wood. Now, David not only seems to know everyone,  he also loves creativity, photography, the outdoors, arts and everything else. He only owns VANISH today so he’s a man that really knows his stuff.

Henry Neville Wood is a wood carver and sculptor originally from the Isle of Man. With a taste for adventure, Henry has carved on tiny Swedish Islands, Bulgarian mountains and in Australian barns. He now calls London home.

He is currently working on ‘We went to mars and it was a disaster’…a collection of works exploring a failed attempt to colonise Mars. Based on the intersection between ecological issues, traditional craft technique and future technologies and industry, Henry has been producing his latest collection of work. Utilising his green woodwork skills, using axe, knives and gouges, Henry has produced work that represents sophisticated futuristic technologies –  to effectively help man consume the heavens.

“I use traditional greenwood carving techniques to make wooden sculptures that are reflective of the contemporary world, but speak to some lost time in antiquity. I like to think the works are like archaeological finds that offer an insight into a time or place.

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“I love the idea of perseverance and a new age of exploration and adventure currently being offered by gigantic tech companies desperate to get to Mars. Such an inhospitable environment provides a real challenge to imagine what this mission looks like. Making the crew involves how each crew members role will inform their aesthetic. Like Shackleton’s great wooly jumpers, our crew have modified helmets, backpacks and suits to help perform in the extreme temperatures.

“I take influence from the great outdoors, fashion and travel especially to ancient ruins, monuments and sculpture. Recently cycling the length of Italy, I was awestruck by the remnants of the Roman Empire, the architecture and the carvings in particular, I couldn’t get over the vast and delipidated grandeur. Once so powerful now just in ruins.

“I found myself collecting wood along the way. Olive, Maple, Fruit wood which is all being incorporated into the collection.”

To celebrate everything great about figures, space and 7L, Henry has agreed to come up to our creative hub in Alderley Edge and create and carve a sculpture for the store. It will be a 7L x VANISH Collaboration representing SPACE, TECHNOLOGY, FREEDOM, NATURE, CREATIVITY, IMAGINATION, HEALTH and will stay in the store for people to see. Henry will also be making other Astronauts for the store where people will be able to purchase them. They will each have different names and represent the different LAYERS of life.

Henry Neville Wood

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