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A new public sculpture has been installed outside STEAMhouse!

In 2022 we invited artist Holly Hendry to develop a sculpture for STEAMhouse, the first public artwork that the University has commissioned for the City Centre Campus. We are really excited that Lip Sync is now in place on the corner of Cardigan Street and Jennens Road.

Made from rolled, formed and laser cut steel with smaller hand-cast elements, the brightly coloured sculpture’s surface features cartoonish, body-like shapes co-developed with students from Birmingham City University and pupils from Chandos Primary School in Highgate in a series of drawing workshops.

Details, marks and shapes from the workshops were fed into computer software where they were simplified, and amalgamated into a colourful, sheet rubber-like ribbon which weaves through a series of industrial rollers seeming to appear from, and disappear into, the ground. If you get up close you will see that Lip Sync’s surface is made of a puzzle of individual elements that are rolled and fixed together, different parts engineered, coloured, stretched, and flattened by multiple industrial processes.

Holly’s work uses the language of slapstick and cartoons to create joyful and materially rich sculptures which explore the role of the human body in industrialisation and encourage us to think about our current, and future, experiences of being human in relation to new and expanding digital technologies. This is her first permanent public artwork. Working with project curators Eastside Projects she has put together this series of prompts, thoughts and ideas to use as starting points when looking at the work. If you’re coming along to STEAMhouse, take a look and reflect…


Flattened. Extruded. Condensed. Material. Physical. Tangible. Steel mimicking rubber Looping down and around beneath our feet, like the mechanics of the building – the air conditioning, the data cables, the water supply. Tensions between bodies and machines, mechanisation and digitalisation. Steam rollered through the computer Computing – the act of calculating or reckoning A group activity, physical bodies working things out together Following a fixed set of calculations and rules Individual acts become collective, leading from one to another. Tiny details, marks and gestures emerging from many conversations, little elements from somebody else’s hand Bodies dispersed through mark making The history of this building is of bicycles and rubber. Machines enabling forward motion, extensions of the body. Technological augmentation. The structure of a Jacquard loom – the original computer. Controlled by the punch of a hole. From far away an image, a painting or a drawing. On closer inspection a puzzle of small parts; drawings, cutouts, and layers folded into a continuous loop. Punctuated by cast elements – perhaps teeth or vertebrae. Digital processes physicalised in the making. Handmade drawings pushed into simplified lines and gestures, reflecting the language of advertising and traffic signs. Breathe