REVIEW: Holly Hendry @ BALTIC

Posted on June 8th 2017 by Whats on Northeast

Words: Gillian Rodgers for Cuckoo Review

On display from 18th February and ending on 24th September 2017, the BALTIC, Gateshead is host to a one-room art installation from up-and-coming British artist Holly Hendry. It is her first solo installation in a UK Arts Centre and is a sculpture-based exhibition, reflecting her Masters in sculpture at the Royal College of Art. The exhibition is called ‘Wrot’; a term used in the timber trade to describe a piece of wood which has had more than one side planed smooth.

Considering the term ‘Wrot’ and its definition, Hendry has intended to set a scene for her audience to look beyond what an object may seem to be on the surface. She is fascinated by the complexities of objects and what lies beneath and behind their assumed insignificance. In her own words she describes ‘Wrot’ to be “a word that relates to surfaces and it references buildings and decay. It’s quite a textual word. It’s as if you can feel it as well as see it”. This too, is reflected in the installation. From the sugary pastel colours to the consistencies of the materials used, such as foams and jesmonite, it is easy to imagine what the different textures would be like to touch. Though to actually touch any part of the piece would probably get you in a lot of trouble, so it’s best just to imagine! The colours also seem to serve as a reminder of childhood and how we once used to question everything we saw and why everything in the world pieced together the way it did.

As such, the piece seems to reflect upon people’s tendency to see only that which is in front of them and not to consider what is behind it, or what is below the surface; taking things at face-value instead of questioning what we are actually seeing, as children do. The idea that we are only seeing one section of a full story. This idea is presented through a long bone-shaped cut out in the outer wall, which offers the viewer the chance to see only a fragment of the exhibition, a portion of the artist’s story.

Large sculptures which look like fragments of teeth grow towards the white-panelled ceiling of the exhibition, whilst below what is assumed to be the floor of the piece – different coloured layers of what lies beneath the ground – can be seen. Contained within these ‘beneath’ sections are pieces of nails, bones and other man-made and natural materials, demonstrating Hendry’s interest in decay and the simultaneous existence of what is natural and what is created. This can also be seen to reflect the nature of a chaotic ‘below’ section, filled with discarded items which time has forgotten, and a neutral ‘above’ where things seem simpler than they may be. The below section can also be considered as a ‘grave’, where bodies are returned to nature and decay and rest below the surface of what is man-made.

It is clear from this exhibition that Hendry is a talented sculptor and artist who is hyper-aware of the space that she wishes to use and does so to good effect. Go and check out this talented artist’s exhibition before its too late!

This review originally appeared on Cuckoo Review, a site dedicated to developing the skills of young writers in partnership with venues across the North East. For more reviews from young writers, visit the Cuckoo Review website.

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