Slackwater, 2023. Steel ducting, paint, wooden cable spools, and Jesmonite cast fenders, 6 x 17 x 50 meters. Photo: Hells Gibson, © Holly Hendry, Courtesy the artist and theCoLab

Fluid Circulation: A Conversation with Holly Hendry

Systems, patterns, strata, bodies, and machines are among the preoccupations of British sculptor Holly Hendry. Turning things inside out and breaking their inner workings down into individual, often corporeal, parts, she reveals boundaries that are often more porous and permeable than we might imagine. Her inspirations range from oozing waves of lime-green candy photographed in a Colombian sweet factory and images of Saint Lucy’s disembodied eyes on a plate to a mosaic of food detritus from the Vatican’s Profane Museum and an illustration of the human anatomy as an industrial process by the 20th-century gynecologist Fritz Kahn.

Hendry recently installed her first permanent public artwork, Lip-sync (2023), at Birmingham City University, outside a former rubber and bicycle factory, now converted into a center for technological innovation. Resembling a gigantic vertical conveyor belt, imprinted with bodily forms and orifices, the vibrant steel sculpture references ideas of labor, community, the body as machine, and machine as body. Slackwater (2023), another outdoor sculpture, recently opened on the rooftop garden above Temple Underground station in London, beside the River Thames. Inspired by the rhythms of fluvial tides and the flow of people, it creates a tapestry of interwoven buoys and undulating pipes in which visitors temporarily become part of the flotsam and jetsam gathered by the water before spilling back out into their busy lives.

Elizabeth Fullerton: What inspired Lip-sync? There seems to be a formal connection with Slacker (2019), a kinetic sculpture that you made for your Yorkshire Sculpture Park show “The Dump is Full of Images.” That work also featured a monumental conveyor belt, a silicone band inlaid with bodily images and crushed objects from your studio.
Holly Hendry:
Slacker was about 150 feet long, and I was pouring parts, mixing parts, chopping it, and making a sort of rubber tapestry. . .

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