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Issue 221

Lindsey Mendick’s Modern Fable

At Cooke Latham Gallery, the artist replicates a doctor’s surgery, using mythic creatures as a metaphor for living with polycystic ovary syndrome

BY Jamila Prowse in Reviews , UK Reviews | 10 MAY 21

In her latest solo show, ‘Hairy on the Inside’, Lindsey Mendick revisits her signature blend of deeply intimate autobiography and raucous humour to detail her experience of living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). A replica of a doctor’s waiting room of werewolf patients begins an overarching investigation into a condition that, among other symptoms, causes excess hair growth and infertility. Mendick aligns herself with the plight of the werewolf – a human-turned-villain under the influence of the full moon – linking the lunar and menstrual cycle in a double entendre which will feel familiar to sufferers of PMS.

lindsey mendick hairy on the inside
Lindsey Mendick, 'Hairy on the Inside', 2021, installation view. Courtesy: the artist and Cooke Latham Gallery, London

Mendick is known for her extraordinarily detailed work and this exhibition is no exception, right down to the blooming wombs on the patients’ hospital gowns and gallery staff’s facemasks (drawn by Mendick’s mother Jenny, a former children’s clothes designer and frequent collaborator). Originally a ceramicist, Mendick has continually branched out into new media, here notably in the collaborative film with her partner Guy Oliver, in which Mendick delivers a profoundly vulnerable monologue alongside clips from female werewolf horror movies dating back to the early-CGI of the 1980s (Hairy on the Inside). This also marks Mendick’s second foray into painting ­­– following last year’s ‘Are You Going to Destroy Me?’ at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art in London – with four canvases depicting a werewolf performing household tasks with two children (based on the artist’s niece and nephew). The werewolf’s defining folkloric features of bared teeth and sharp claws remain, but Mendick reframes the mythic creature through gestures of intimacy.

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Lindsey Mendick, Bath time with Wolfie, 2021, oil on canvas, 76 × 51 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Cooke Latham Gallery, London

Though Mendick is speaking to the specific experience of PCOS, her articulation of the misunderstood werewolf will provide a lifeline for anyone who has ever felt deviant within a society that habitually disparages their everyday experiences, externalizing an ‘inner demon’ that is universally relatable.

'Lindsey Mendick: Hairy on the Inside’, 2021, is on view at Cooke Latham Gallery, London, until 21 May. 

Main image: Lindsey Mendick, Wolfie and Felix Watching Telly, 2021, oil on canvas, 51 x 76 cm. Courtesy: the artist and Cooke Latham Gallery, London

Jamila Prowse is an artist, writer and researcher. She holds a studio at Studio Voltaire and was a studio residency artist at Gasworks from January to April 2021. Prowse has written for frieze, Dazed, Elephant, GRAIN, Art Work Magazine and Photoworks.