February 17, 2017

Holly Hendry @ BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead

Holly Hendry: Wrot
BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, Gateshead
18 February – 4 June 2017

Holly Hendry
Gut Feelings, 2016.
Plaster, steel, aluminium, cement, Jesmonite, polyurethane foam, marble, birch ply, soap, chewing gum, rawhide dog chew, motor
Courtesy the artist and Limoncello, London.

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead presents the first major institutional exhibition by emerging British artist Holly Hendry.

Holly Hendry (b. London, 1990) presents an entirely new body of work for her exhibition Wrot for the BALTIC level 2 space. Using a variety of materials, from Jesmonite and plaster to foam, wood, steel and water-jet cut marble, she creates a geology of oozy forms peppered with comic elements, such as dog chew bones and spinning plaster teeth. She investigates the underneath and backsides of things, using cross-sectional cuts that make insides become edges, revealing their dirty innards. Her works talk about absence through presence and offer intimacy without proximity. Her sugary colours and cartoon content examine the very human aspects of laughter and death.

The works in the exhibition, including an archaeology of layered fragments like a museum diorama, resist the flatness of surface, pulling us underneath to see the details. Holly Hendry says ‘like the grimy surface of the street at ground level - a striation of all the debris, layers, fragments and time we’ve stomped down’ the layered structure offers a cartoonish impression of the layers of sediment that we usually overlook, under our feet. Surfaces are important in the work - primed, polished and finished - the applications we use to protect and conserve materials and what we use to cover things up or conceal. The title of the show itself Wrot is a definition used in the building trade to refer to timber with one or more sides planed smooth. It also references rotting, decay or breakdown and things happening under the surface that Holly Hendry’s cross sections or slices allow us to explore. Layering, reconstitution of materials, agglomerates and new materials made from old are referenced and how these materials are displaced, dug out and filled, giving rise to the build-up and break down of entire biological and industrial systems.

The works in the exhibition, as is typical of the artist, draw attention to the spatial, material and structural qualities of the architecture and how space is experienced. Her large-scale sculptures are built specifically for BALTIC’s Level 2 gallery space, without referring directly to it. Rather, they rely on the architecture as a framework. They connect to it, as Holly Hendry states, with ‘spatial ligaments, like necklace to neck’.

Holly Hendry’s interest in the architectural qualities of the body itself - our internal structure of bones that supports the surface skin is explored in the exhibition. She considers the physicality of the human body and our attempts through medical science, from prostheses to intimate sutures, to arrest its inevitable decline. Teeth, the body part that is lost more often, appear blown up and looming in the space. Emblematic of the fact that our bodies never remain intact, they are both markers of people and a way to identify remains. More broadly, Holly Hendry is interested in sculpture’s relationship to the memorial. Grave-like cavities puncture Holly Hendry’s surfaces – places where bone and skin turn to dust and where matter changes: the body returning to its material substances, becoming ‘stuff’ again. The exhibition reminds us of the permeability of the body’s periphery and our coagulation as bodies and objects.

HOLLY HENDRY (b. 1990, based in London, UK) gained her BA Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art (2013) and her MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art (2016). Exhibitions include Limoncello Cork St, London (2016) with Kate Owens; Rice + Toye, London, UK (2016); Bosse & Baum, London, UK (2015); The Oval, London, UK; and Gallery North, Newcastle upon Tyne (both 2014). Recent group shows include GL Strand, Copenhagen; Belmacz Mayfair, London, UK; VITRINE, London, UK; The Royal Standard, Liverpool, UK; CBS Gallery, Liverpool, UK; Cowley Manor, Cotswolds, UK (all 2016); Turf Projects Space, Croydon, UK; Chesterfield House, London, UK; Salt + Powell, York, UK (all 2015), S1 Artspace, Sheffield, UK; and Sharjah Art Foundation, Sharjah, AE (both 2014). 

BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
Gateshead Quays, South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA UK