The Green Man: Lucy Skaer
Lucy Skaer’s exhibition The Green Man is an exploration and reanimation of the desire to collect. Throughout her practice, Skaer mines and manipulates pre-existing imagery—from art, history, and from her own oeuvre and personal history—transforming and destabilizing relationships between materials and meanings. For this exhibition, Skaer has selected items from the collections of the University of Edinburgh and invited fellow artists to inhabit the galleries of Talbot Rice alongside her—Fiona Connor, H.D., Will Holder, Nashashibi/Skaer and Hanneline Visnes.
To Skaer, the Green Man is a deeply irrational figure, spewing leaves and vines in the place of language. Present in both pagan and Christian imagery, the Green Man made a resurgence after the plague, when wilderness and weeds took over much of the arable land. Skaer has selected items from the collection, bringing them into dialogue with her own constantly shifting works. She has opened windows into the Gallery, allowing in light that may cause them to sprout, grow and form a thicket, where before there was order. In calling the exhibition The Green Man, Lucy Skaer likens the spontaneous generation and evolution of form in artworks such as Sticks and Stones (2015–18) to the symbol of destruction and renewal found in carved stone figures made of leaves and vines.
Amongst this scene are Hanneline Visnes’ paintings which comment on the representation and control of nature using stylised motifs of animals and plants; Will Holder’s interpretive re-publishing of H.D.’s Palimpsest; Nashashibi/Skaer’s film revisiting the tableaus of Gauguin; and Fiona Connor’s exposure of the Gallery’s secret places. These all contribute to the exploration of collections, forms, print and language. Including a number of new works commissioned by Talbot Rice Gallery for the exhibition, The Green Man carves playful new ways for the collections of the University to speak to visitors, and represents Skaer’s most in-depth exhibition in the UK to date.