About the Artist
Universally acclaimed muralist and painter, Gerard D’Alton Henderson was truly an international man. He was widely regarded and celebrated for his various creations worldwide, most particularly in Southeast Asia.
The eldest of four children, Gerard was born on June 28, 1928 in Kuala Lumpur, the son of a beautiful Chinese artist mother and his father, an intelletual Irish plantation owner. With his Anglo-Chinese background, his childhood in Malaysia and Singapore, and his classical Chinese education, it is hardly surprising that Gerard’s work combines such multiplicity of Western and Eastern influences.Education: Tutored privately at home in Chinese calligraphy, painting, and literature. At the age of nine, entered St. Anthony’s Boy’s School and later St. Joseph’s Institution, both in Singapore. Forced to leave St. Joseph’s at the outbreak of World War II and entered a Buddhist school in Singapore for the duration of the war, studying traditional Chinese literature and philosophy.
L to R: Sister Cecilia, Mother Aileen, Sister Paula, Father Laurence & Gerard
Professional Background (1945 – 1955)He Started his career as a first violinist with Radio Malaya and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, before training as an artist. Worked for ENSA ( The Entertainments National Service Association ), as an apprentice and personal assistant to Professor Dr. Erik Chisholm, acclaimed Scottish composer, conductor and musical director of ENSA at Victoria Memorial Hall in Singapore, transposing and copying musical scores. Dr. Erik Chisholm was also the founder of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra in 1945.Established own art studio in Singapore doing portraits and illustrative work (72 pictures for the USIS) :
Gerard (left) with watercolourist Dong Kingman by the Singapore River
Gerard in his studio singapore
The Crucifixion by Gerard
In 1956, he won an international competition to create a 90 ft. long mural frieze and a three-dimensional Sculptural mural, constructed of aluminum and other synthetics depicting inter-planetary travel for Royal Dutch Airlines weighing three tons.
1956 – Executed mural for G. Nanda & Sons, Singapore.
1955 – Commissioned to paint portrait of Prince Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, also the Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. Executed two murals for the main lobby of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
1956 – Moved to Europe to enrol in the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de San Jorge de Barcelona as well as Escuela la Llotya de Barcelona, the latter school, once being host to Pablo Picasso. During this period:
1959 – Designed and executed 21 stained-glass windows for the chapel of la Sagrada Familia in Seu-de-Urgel, in the Spanish Pyrenees :
1960 – Completed three murals for the Universitaria San Jaime, Barcelona, Spain. Held “One Man Exhibition” at the Ateneo Barcelones, Barcelona, Spain. Mural for the home of Joan March, Cala Ratjada, Mallorca, Spain :
1960 – Moved from Spain to London, England, at the invitation of Sir Hugh Casson, David Hicks and Sir Eric Newton (then Art Advisor to the Commonwealth Institute). Working from London, executed:
1961 – Mural in the Princess Ida Room of the famous Savoy Hotel in London:
Sketch for mural at right
1962 – Mural on silk for the new British Commonwealth Institute in London.
According to Juan Eduardo Cirlot, one of Spain’s most notable critics, “Henderson uses the techniques of the Western abstract, delves into the treasure chest of the Orient, and emerges with a fresh and universal vision.”