Cooke Latham Gallery is pleased to present ROT by Lindsey Mendick as the fourth instalment of our online Isolation Exhibitions and a precursor to the artist’s solo exhibition at the gallery in Spring 2021.
Lindsey Mendick is a London-based artist who works with clay, a medium that is often associated with decoration and the domestic, subverting these historic connotations to create skilled monuments to ‘low culture’ and the contemporary female experience. Often culminating in elaborate installations, Mendick’s autobiographical work offers a form of catharsis, encouraging the viewer to explore their own personal history through the revisionist lens of the artist. Her work challenges the male gaze, promoting instead an unapologetic, humorous and, at times, grotesque femininity.
Inspired by the film ‘A Zed and Two Noughts’ by Peter Greenaway, ROT is a series of new ‘ceramic paintings’ by Mendick that examine the fine line between attraction and revulsion. Created during lockdown, five still lifes are carved in triptychs depicting three stages of decomposition. They display both a fear and fascination with the prospect of decay, a duality that occupies much of the artist’s work.
Lindsey Mendick received an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art, London in 2017. She was the recipient of the Alexandra Reinhardt memorial award in 2018 and was also selected for Jerwood Survey 2019. Recent solo and two-person exhibitions include: Eastside Projects, Birmingham; Castor Projects, London; Hannah Barry Gallery, London; The Turnpike, Leigh; Zabludowicz Collection, London; and Vitrine, Basel.
by Lindsey Mendick
My car is a shit tip. It is an albatross of congealed shame that hangs around my neck. A surprise passenger always fills me with heavy dread. I pretend it’s not usually like this. But it’s always like this.
Surprising items recently found in my car by surprise passengers: a travel clothes steamer, a pessary, a bent do not bend envelope, orange patent go go boots, broken hair, tobacco strings, coffee cups, a couple of unravelled tampons and two salt and vinegar square crisp packets folded into identical neat triangles.
Last year I went away to Mexico for a month. It was an ill judged attempt at self care after burning out and contracting shingles. My mind, the cruel torturer that it is, found an easy anxiety pit in worrying about the safety of my car back in the UK. I feared imaginary parking tickets, shattered windows, flattened tyres, towing, torching and even exploding.
I had left it alone.
On my return, my anxieties over the abandonment of my car had come to fruition. In my neglectful absence it had developed its own culture; massing little teal and black fluffy spores around the windows and on its hood. It had also developed a slightly acrid and pungent smell. As a car is an alien creature to me at the best of times; I am the type of person who will ignore all types of automative problems. So I opened a window and cleaned off the mould with a blue and white j-cloth I found under the seat.
One day hungover, I found myself in an internet spiral that culminated in me googling; ‘what does a dead body smell like’.
‘The power of the smell is incredible. Personally, I’m not sure it’s describable. ‘ Said Jim from a website called ‘Thought Catalogue’. ‘Like shit mixed with meat.’ Stated Sarahd16 from ‘Quora’. ‘It smells like there are a million dead and rotting rats around you.’ Agreed Gaurav also from ‘Thought Catalogue.
A week later, it still smelled rank and the mould reappeared to shame and torment me. I was going to do something about it, I had thought about doing something about it, but I was busy and then a surprise passenger needed a lift home. I did my usual scrambled gesture of tidying. Humiliation suffocated my windpipe as receipts and lighters were scooped into a Tesco’s bag for life. I’d almost gotten away with it, they didn’t look too disgusted. But then my hand sank into the offending article.
It’s alarming to touch something so wet and so slippery unexpectedly. The permutation of my fingers into its fragile skin only released more of its dank odour. So sweet, but so repulsively sickly. Using a clothes hanger I found on the passenger seat, I extracted the as of yet unidentified culprit with militant sharp staccato scrapes. Through a fug of dread and fermentation; a rotten, brown mass the texture of caramel was retrieved from the car. It’s a mango. Or at least it was a mango. And the only way it’s identifiable as that is due to the perfectly preserved sticker that clings to its entrails.
The surprise passenger has decided that actually they’ll walk and I feel the same shame I felt when a partner discovered a fungal infection in the crease of my inner thigh.