What is Bexhill’s giant ‘worm’ and where did it come from?

Is it a giant worm? Children’s play equipment? Or an elaborate ventilation system?

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 10:53 am
Sculpture by Holly Hendry outside the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. SUS-210106-131235001

This giant, pink, twisting tube, which has popped up by the De La Warr Pavilion, is in fact part of a landmark arts project stretching across East Sussex, Kent and Essex.

Called Invertebrate, the piece is an England’s Creative Coast Waterfronts commission: a landmark project between seven outstanding arts organisations to create new, outdoor cultural experiences with the aim of connecting art with landscape and local stories with global perspectives. It brings together the seven Waterfronts commissions and the world’s first art GeoTour, with each partner presenting their own section of the project and a local engagement programme at its heart.

Holly Hendry’s Invertebrate is a giant composite form, worming its way around the outside of De La Warr Pavilion, stretching from the seafront lawn to the first floor balcony and the roof. Inside, an accompanying exhibition by Hendry titled Indifferent Deep will show the after-effects of the invertebrate’s actions.

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The artwork is not to everyone’s taste, with one resident likening Invertebrate to a ‘ventilation system’ and a children’s play area. But the giant sculpture has proved popular with visitors to the town who have followed the Creative Coast arts trail through Eastbourne, Bexhill Hastings, Folkestone, Margate, Gravesend and Southend-on-Sea.

Invertebrate’s anatomy joins together different materials that resonate with the seaside location.

Sandbags made from boating canvas, wrinkly and filled with pale local sand, connect with segments made using the same casting techniques used to create tetrapod sea defences. These join onto wobbly metal ducting and sections in brick, with the artist saying the contrast conveys “corporality and vulnerability to the elements”.

Invertebrate will be on display until November 12. Indifferent Deep will be on display in the ground floor gallery until August 30.