Words by Cindy Fournier

After a rainy day like many others in the Big Smoke, the sun came out on time for the unveiling of her new body of work. The scenery was gothic, photorealistic, in an abandoned East London building. 

About to dry and wither, this is how Cj Hendry picked her flowers. Her first show in London yet ninth solo exhibition, Epilogue calls all Romantics to gather under the falling paper flowers at rush hour. Operating without a gallery, the Australian artist seeks unique environments for her temporary large-scale exhibitions. Immersive, preferably. She chose The New Testament Church of God as her new canvas, breathing new life into it. Its damaged ceiling, now repaired, marks the beginning of a new chapter in the church’s history and local communal life.

Through a hyperrealist floral series, Hendry reflects and reevaluates the weight of time, drawing in black and white a new depth to the bittersweet transience that forces its way into the human mind. Her art recreates reality so meticulously that each petal appeared in the process of shedding. Starting by photographing her subjects herself, she then spends hours scribbling with pencils – the name of her technical mastery – making it seem easy, adding layers onto layers, giving new dimensions from only a piece of cotton paper. She’s a disrupter, disciplined enough for her work ethic to be made of steel. 

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 11: A general view of the opening of ‘Epilogue’ – the first UK solo show from Brisbane-born, New York based artist Cj Hendry at the New Testament Church of God in East London, on May 11, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Cj Hendry)

Visitors were burying themselves under the tonne of immaculate confetti, recyclable assuredly, simplified miniatures of the masterpieces adorning the dilapidated walls. Textured yet splendid. They settled, and will keep doing so until the end of the show. A gradually fluffing white blanket inviting meditation, a  reminder of the one direction journey of decay and nonlinear highway to death. Even the cocktail cans matched her art, with jazz playing in the background and stained-glass windows burning bright.

Dropping consumerist aesthetics for contemporary anxieties, Hendry devoted her unique blend this time to create a site of pristine ephemerality. I went to church that evening, where Cj Hendry made mortality a landscape of beauty.

Epilogue is kindly sponsored by Caran d’Ache.

Exhibition dates: 12 – 22 May 2022

New Testament Church of God, London E3 5AA

All images (c) Cj Hendry