Hannah Perry: GUSH

In order to process loss, first we must try to make sense of it. There are no rules when it comes to grief, an experience so very personal and delicately complex to each individual. How courageous then, when the effect of absence is presented from an internal perspective, shared with the world for observation.

As the name suggests, ‘GUSH,’ the latest installation from artist Hannah Perry is an outpouring of raw emotion, tamed briefly for us to examine. In her first major body of work since the suicide of best friend and artistic collaborator Pete Morrow, Perry deals with her own bereavement in all the obscure intricacy it deserves.

Set in the River Rooms of Somerset House, the distressed, peeling walls provide a suitable canvas to Perry’s honest, hard hitting collection of work. The main focal point is ‘Rage Fluids,’ a large sculptural piece consisting of warped, rose gold, car body wrap, hung from industrial scaffolding, with bulky subwoofer speakers attached to the back of it. Curving through the space in fluid motion, the viewer is invited to explore the mirrored labyrinth as it snakes round the room, accompanied by an uneasy rhythm of audio frequencies causing the metal to shake. Vibrating to an unpredictable sequence of bass fuelled sound, reflections momentarily become distorted to a point beyond recognition.


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Installation view, Hannah Perry, GUSH, 2018, at Somerset House, London. Images courtesy of the artist & Somerset House. Photography: Tim Bowditch


Surrounding the sculpture there are moments of calm where I can clearly see my own image staring back and others so abrupt in their arrival that the shaking metal causes my reflection to dissolve into a swirling blur. Felt with force, Perry creates a physical representation of the overwhelming intensity encountered with mental health, the unsettling tempo of vibrations perfectly communicating the ebb and flow of daily struggles. The choice of car body wrap hints to the crushing notion that even metal, a material strong and protective by nature can be manipulated under pressure.

Hung pieces can be found in the surrounding space, featuring Perry’s distinctive style of overlapping glitchy textures, combining screen printing and digitally printed photography and text, with layers of thick car lacquer and paint.

In the next room, an immersive and powerful film by Perry can be found, stretched across multiple screens in a curved format. Created using a 360° camera, the focus shifts rapidly between vertigo inducing views, to snippets of found footage and recorded webcam clips. The narrative doesn’t move in structured progression but instead throbs and wanes to its own pulse of broken verse and repetitive sentence. Neither audio or image take the lead, both blending together to weave life into a series of selected memories. Perry explores our digital existence, using filmed segments from webcam conversations and spoken excerpts from text messages. These virtual realms of communication preserve our online occupancy long after our physical being is gone, raising the question, “How reliable are digital sources when giving insight into personal identity?”


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Installation view, Hannah Perry, GUSH, 2018, at Somerset House, London. Images courtesy of the artist & Somerset House. Photography: Tim Bowditch


Hosting a number of workshops with young people from London South East College, based on exploring our relationship with death, Perry threads the findings into her finished piece, making words appear fleetingly on screen, flashing between fragments of imagery. The footage flits nostalgically between haunting displays of heartbreak, taken from intimately filmed home videos, combined with the contrasting beat of late night car cruises and pumping club scenes.

Accompanied by a moving instrumental score, written in collaboration with a host of contemporary musicians, including award wining composers Mica Levi, Coby Sey and London Contemporary Orchestra, the finished film is an emotive, true and poignant glimpse into grief as a personal experience.

Exuding an authentic understanding of grief and trauma, Perry presents an honest portrayal of life after loss and the looming impact of suicide left on loved ones. A sincere and courageous approach to topics which inevitably effect every living being, the work depicts a perspective which is both refreshing and necessary. Perry sheds light onto something we are so eager to keep behind closed doors, skilfully illuminating a dark corner of human experience.


GUSH is showing at Somerset House, until the 4th November.