De La Warr Pavilion hosts two major new projects by artist Holly Hendry
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De La Warr Pavilion hosts two major new projects by artist Holly Hendry
Holly Hendry: Indifferernt Deep. Installation view.

BEXHILL ON SEA.- The De La Warr Pavilion hosts two major new projects by artist Holly Hendry addressing subjects that include borders, edges, bodies and machines.

Holly Hendry’s Invertebrate is a giant composite form that worms its way around the outside of De La Warr Pavilion, stretching from the seafront lawn to the First floor balcony and the roof. Inside, an accompanying exhibition by Hendry titled Indifferent Deep shows the after-effects of the invertebrate’s actions.

Almost 100 years ago, in 1923, the Pavilion’s architect Erich Mendelsohn spoke about machines and buildings as part of a network of ‘organisms’ that continue to evolve according to human need. Altering in relation to their surroundings, living organisms grow, consume energy and decay: the Pavilion’s position on the coastline is vulnerable due to rising sea levels, and rough sea winds can erode the clean lines of its modern structure. Extending Mendelsohn’s idea, Hendry visualises the Pavilion’s ‘body’ becoming porous before dissolving into its surroundings. Invertebrate’s journey tears holes in the gallery’s walls, revealing the building’s fragility and making it into a vessel whose leaks and holes cause artworks, the building and its surroundings to appear and disappear from view, while blurring the boundaries between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’.

Hendry created an environment in the gallery using sheets of MDF donated to the artist from a building project that was halted because of COVID-19. It also incorporates waste aggregate from Bexhill’s nearby brickworks, excavated from ground rich in fossils, highlighting the unimaginably vast cycle of production in which the earth’s ancient resources are endlessly processed and spat out.

Hosted within this environment are a series of semi-figurative sculptures, some of which move. Different concepts of time have informed many of the works and a number of sculptures refer to anatomical illustrations that show the inner, digestive workings of the human body, described by physician Fritz Kahn (1888-1968) as “the most competent machine in the world”. In Indifferent Deep, some of these machines are sad, exhausted or defunct. Other works refer to technologies such as the X-ray. Architectural historian Beatriz Colomina has proposed that the X-ray’s development in the late 19th/early 20th century inspired the transparent, glass-filled aesthetic of modernist architecture.

Invertebrate’s anatomy joins together different materials that resonate with the Pavilion’s seaside location. Sandbags made from boating canvas, wrinkly and filled with pale local sand, connect with segments made using the same casting techniques used to create tetrapod sea defences. These join onto wobbly metal ducting and sections in brick, the contrasting materiality of each segment conveying corporality and vulnerability to the elements. Suggesting hydrological functions both small and large — the transition of stone to sand and sand to glass, for instance — and notions of decomposition and re-emulsification essential to organic renewal, Hendry’s invertebrate form is a metaphor for precarity and change.

Holly Hendry was born in 1990 in London, where she continues to live and work. She gained her BA Fine Art at The Slade School of Fine Art (2013) and her MA Sculpture at the Royal College of Art (2016). Recent solo exhibitions include: Stephen Friedman Gallery for Frieze London (2020), Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2019), Frutta Rome (2018-2019); and major group shows include the Biennale de Lyon (2019) and Liverpool Biennial (2018).

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