2013/14 Woon Tai Jee Fellow:
Holly Hendry

Holly’s research during her residency at BALTIC 39 continued an examination of our use of spaces and places, pushing her sculptural works to explore the space between construction and collapse, expansion and contraction.

During the fellowship she developed works that addressed the history of sculpture and making, and indulged in a fascination in the restoration processes on historical sites, such as the Parthenon, and the details of armatures and support structures that are not traditionally on show. Working with symbols of architecture (such as the column or the arch), her works attempted to question the monument or the intrinsic historicity of architecture. Through looking at places like Newcastle, where the city has been put back together and chunks of theold wall are used to build a corner shop or cafe, her sculptures took on a fragmented modular nature, where the work was always in pieces. She was making things behave like tiles or bricks to create building blocks from the symbol of the building itself.

Holly’s project in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, in March 2014 brought her work to the scale of Architecture. Re-imagining the traditional wind tower or ‘Barjeel’ and drawing on its history architectural function, Holly madea site specific work in which steel air ducting pipes looped through the un-used tower, running a continuous, regurgitating circuit of air through the tower and around the courtyard. The work attempted to create an awareness of the conditions we encounter; an air-conditioning system that defies its usual purpose – highlighting air that is synonymous with living space – what connects bodies to buildings. The wooden framework that supported the piping acted as a type of external skeleton or scaffolding reflecting the building techniques that create the bones of our private domains and the pillowing addressed the handmade in relation to the oversized metal pipe structuure.

For the culmination of her residency, Holly created a solo show for Gallery North entitled ‘Hollow Bodies’. This new body of work examined flatness and fullness: a giddy floppiness of excess materiality. Translating measurements derived from architectural interiors into inflatable forms, the materials that make two dimensions into three were employed to create objects that are made from spaces.

The exhibition also touched on the beginnings of an investigation into the idea of design and infrastructure on an industrial level and a handmade level – our reliance on it and its modern ambition to hide those systems that are at work behind the scenes, that are only brought to our attention when things break down. A variety of materials relating to these ideas, from sheep’s wool to baby lotion, were tested within the space of the show, continuing Hendry’s material experimentations which had occurred throughout the year in the BALTIC39 studio.

Holly Hendry