New Testament Church of God
43 Morgan Street
In May 2022, Cj Hendry will present Epilogue, comprising her ninth solo exhibition and immersive experience, and her first show in London. This poignant and reflective exhibition introduces a new body of monochromatic work in Hendry’s signature photorealistic style. The 20 unique flower works will be showcased in the unique site of the New Testament Church of God, a dilapidated East London church.
This elegantly melancholic series mirrors a collective mood of reflection and re-evaluation, seeing Hendry work for the first time in a pared down palate of black and white. Questioning the ephemeral nature of beauty, time, and mortality all so prevalent today, Epilogue will also bring to life large scale immersive experiences – seeing 10 tonnes of recyclable confetti made up of millions of paper flower cut outs continuously fall from the ceiling of the cavernous hall across the duration of the 10-day period of the show. The confetti will be allowed to settle, gradually blanketing the floors over the course of the exhibition, underlining a greater sense of time, transcience and rebirth, forever altering the landscape of the exhibition.
Epilogue comprises 30 unique drawings depicting flora chosen from Hendry’s vast collection of references from around the world. The artist carefully arranges and photographs each specimen, and meticulously reproduces the images in Caran D’Ache Luminance coloured pencils on cotton paper. The creation of each drawing requires intense discipline and concentration, with a small-scale piece taking up to 80 hours. Far from being an ordeal, however, Hendry views drawing as a meditative process which provides a momentary respite from the outside world.
The new series of work draws on depictions of nature throughout art history, from 17th century Dutch Still Life paintings to the Pop Art of Andy Warhol and Marc Quinn. While the botanic motif has traditionally symbolised life and vitality, Hendry opts for a darker interpretation. Beneath the beauty and formality of her drawings, Hendry depicts flowers that without their source of nutrients are inevitably left to decay. The artist portrays them precisely at a moment when they about to dry and wither, capturing the final vestiges of their temporary existence.
“It’s natural at this time in the world that this series be concerned with the provocation of time, death and decay. We treasure flowers for their fleeting beauty. Countless artists have depicted flowers in full bloom, but few have portrayed them as they begin to wither and shed their petals. To me this is where the beauty lies, and Epilogue is a memorial to them and a reminder that nothing lasts forever.” Cj Hendry
For Hendry, the exhibition space and its associated concept are crucial to the narrative of her practice. Eschewing the pristine, white-wall gallery space, the artist frequently creates temporary large-scale installations. Taking place within a church, this interactive installation also touches on the religious notion of rebirth. The New Testament Church of God (former Holy Trinity) is constructed of London stock brick with stone dressings and was built between 1836 and 1839. Prior to Hendry coming across the space, the church had fallen into disuse and disrepair in the 1960s. To prepare for the exhibition, the studio has renovated the church and repaired its damaged ceiling. This regeneration process will breathe new life into the church and reinstate its role as a hub for local communal life. The end of Hendry’s Epilogue will thus mark the beginning of a new chapter in the church’s own story. Epilogue is kindly sponsored by Caran d’Ache.