“One of the great problems with the nature of photography is that people are accustomed to seeing a photograph as authoritative evidence, as proof of something,”

Bill Henson, interview with Janet Hawley, 2000.


Although Henson uses the contemporary art form of photography, his artworks are not documentary in style. The ONEIROI series is neither documentary or narrative, instead Henson desired to create a space between dream and reality. Hence the name ONEIROI. The Oneiroi are the spirits of dreams in Greek mythology who emerged each night from the land of eternal darkness beyond the rising sun. The Oneiroi passed through one of two gates (pylai). The first of these, made of horn, was the source of the prophetic god-sent dreams, while the other, constructed of ivory, was the source of dreams which were false and without meaning. The term for nightmare was melas oneiros (black dream). The series also wonders if there is a particular reason they many of us cleave to a heritage to which we only have tangential links or do the physical artefacts of our histories offer a way of capturing elusive nature of belonging?

ONEIROI – the project

This series was commissioned by the Hellenic Museum and supported by the Buckingham family. Henson chose six objects from the God's, Myths & Mortals collection which