The image of a dead man, taken from a newspaper report of a riot in Mexico, lies across the top of a large, banner-like sheet of unstretched paper. A red pool of blood runs from his head, through the pattern of a Chinese bowl, to a flipped image of the same figure beneath resting on a strange grouping of modular building blocks. To Skaer, the corpse represents "a naturally occurring image, the perfect likeness of the living person, and yet fundamentally different." Like the bowl, an object spanning generations of mortality, it is removed from its historical and geographical context to allow the artist to construct a new narrative on a new timescale.
Lucy Skaer Tragedy No Us Touched Has
Ink on paper
152.4 x 101.6 cm
Tragedy No Us Touched Has relates closely to Diagrams and Banners (Blood). It employs a similar playing card construction, pairing semi-symmetrical images of a human form lifted from photojournalistic imagery, this time a girl injured in the Bloody Sunday protests, with a delicately etched glass bowl. The bowl is drawn in pencil three times, each version layered close atop the other, to attain a blurry, optical appearance. Entwined in a sort of Venn diagram or a heraldic coat of arms, figure and object are associated by colour (the blood on the girl's face is Wedgewood blue) and design (the pattern on her clothes, the markings on its surface).
Artists and Artworks - Lucy Skaer
'I am interested in the idea that the corpse or cadaver is a naturally occurring image - it is the perfect likeness of the living person, and yet it has become fundamentally different. My work explores the movement of images, and plays with the degree to which they are separate from first hand experience. Moments of trauma are structured into compositions taken from sources such as coats of arms and propaganda posters. Walking a line between documentation and symbolism, these works seek to question the way in which you read them.'
Lucy's drawings utilise found imagery sourced from photojournalistic reportage. Typically Lucy uses graphite for the main substance of her drawings to which enamel paint, ink and gold leaf are added. Merging photo-originated images with different forms of patterning, Skaer creates shifting collages that move from the emotive to the reified. At play here is our familiarity with the compositional structure of Venn diagrams, heraldry, oriental porcelain design and Rorsach ink blots.
Henry VIII's Wives is a collaborative group founded in 1997 based in Scotland and Scandinavia. Its members--Rachel Dagnall, Bob Grieve, Sirko Knuepfer, Simon Polli, Per Sander and Lucy Skaer--met while students in the Environmental Art Department of the Glasgow School of Art. The group was named shortly after the death of Princess Diana in September 1997.
The name bears a relation to this event but was also chosen because it refuses to label the activities or members of the group (i.e., the date, sex, context and chronology), as it is in almost every way inappropriate. We have been involved in numerous collaborative performative works and installations including Mercedes CL600 (1998) in which we replicated the damage inflicted on Princess Diana's car; Nine Reasons to be an Optimist (1999), a photograph of 10 religious leaders who were invited by the group to meet in a disused airport control tower; and A Pictorial History of the 20th Century (1999) in which elderly day care center inhabitants were posed in re creations of iconic media photographs such as the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald and the aftermath of a napalm attack.
The group gathers several weeks before each show to create site-specific works from materials appropriate to each concept. We work with materials that are close at hand or stand out in a particular context. Just after Christmas in Norway, marzipan was on sale so we devised a work using this material, combining film footage of the marzipan with a soundtrack of the cheapest country records we could find. At other times the idea dictates the materials, as in Mercedes CL600 where using a car was essential for representing the actual damage. As a group we are constantly involved in discussion while we work.