Off With Her Head by Lindsey Mendick at Carl Freedman Gallery

F*cking brilliant. A totally bombastic articulation of things which sadly still need to be said. A many-layered, nuanced show, crashing together epochs of references. And so much work, an immersive installation rich with detailed, damning observations in ceramic, sculpture, stained glass and video.

To try and sum it up in words or photos feels an impossible task, she is after all tackling the 2000 year old iceberg of historical legacy that still shapes how our culture treats women today. The impossibility of being a woman, the dangers, the expectations and the limits. And god forbid a woman accrues any semblance of power, the baying audience, always there in judgement, waiting to pronounce her downfall – ‘off with her head’ – be it Anne Boleyn, Meghan Markle, Finnish PM Sanna Marin or Lindsey herself, as she makes her video-confessional, ‘The Sinner’.

‘The Sinner’, mixed media installation (2022) by Lindsey Mendick.

And her video-confessional is endearingly honest, a light-hearted telling of seemingly trivial moments relived for the audience’s entertainment. And I think that’s the point, they are the micro-aggressions of growing up as a girl and young woman in the UK in the 90’s and 00’s made palatable for consumption. The humour belies a dark depth and truth and her audience, in a medieval stall surrounded by stained glass icons, stands as ever in judgement.

A litany of female histories are tenderly portrayed in ceramic vignettes. Poignant and exquisitely detailed, telling age-old stories still lived out today.

I Drink to You Christina (2022)
I Drink to You Lady Jane Grey (2022)
I Drink to You Tracey (2022)

In a burning ghoulish pub, Mendick looks her audience directly in the eye and interrogates the court of public opinion. She is flanked by her triumphant vessels that commemorate ancient allegories and contemporary celebrities. And served by her rightfully swaggering and joyous ‘Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better’ sculptures, that demolish Allen Jones’ grim table sculptures.

And these are just a few of the many, many highlights of the show. An utter tour-de-force, a schooling in how to command object, performance and environment and imbue it with densely layered meaning, a deposition of rage and a veneration of those women named and nameless, who have gone before us.

‘Off With Her Head’ by Lindsey Mendick

At Carl Freedman Gallery, 3 July – 28th August 2022

With the artist giving open thanks to the following collaborators and supporters: