In Lucy Skaer’s art ordinary distinctions and definitions do not apply. The difference between categories we think of as opposites – such as the living and the dead, the present and the past, meaning and meaninglessness – are constantly revisited as she works to transform materials and ideas.
Skaer works in many different ways using film, drawings, sculpture, craft or decorative objects, prints, glass and ceramics. She is interested in images, materials and objects and how their meaning, importance or economic value might shift if they change role, shape or appearance. She once placed a diamond and a scorpion side by side on an Amsterdam pavement; both of course were made of carbon. She has cast modern bronze in 4,000-year-old moulds and remade a famous twentieth-century sculpture, Bird in Space, by Constantin Brancusi, in compacted coal dust.
In 2006, when Skaer was living and working in New York, she travelled to Mexico City to seek out the artist Leonora Carrington. The ninety-year-old painter had been a key figure in the Surrealist movement. Skaer’s installation Leonora (2006) brings together four elements: two sculptures, including an oak table with an inlaid mother-of-pearl image of hands, a dense pencil drawing, and a film. The film is short and simple: capturing the elderly artist in her home. Skaer’s is not so much homage from one generation to another as an encounter. What might happen to Skaer’s own art and ideas if they were to meet those of such a powerful predecessor? Might they also be transformed?
Reflecting the way that her own approach to art is fluid, she is never guided by a single approach to a problem or a single way of thinking, Skaer also works with other artists. With Rosalind Nashashibi she works in film and photography as Nashashibi/Skaer. She is also part of the artists’ collective Henry VIII’s Wives, a group of artists who met when they studied in the Environmental Art Department at the Glasgow School of Art.