Queen Green Solo exhibition, Woodend Gallery, Scarborough (UK)

19 November 2021 – February 27 2022

Exhibition as a result of residency at Dalby Forest, UK

Read commissioned essay by Amy Tobin

‘Queen Green is an exhibition of new works by artist Susie Green inspired by her residency at Dalby Forest in the North York Moors, UK. Queen Green expands on Green’s interest in power play, theatricality and moments of flux. The exhibition celebrates erotic encounters with nature, and moments of confidence and fragility, growth and decay. Painted works on paper and large cut-out forms mounted onto wooden trellis portray powerful, blossoming, shapeshifting bodies.

Green’s residency was significantly guided by Assuming the Ecosexual Position a book by artists and educators Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens. “I learnt of the visualisation of Earth as ‘lover, not mother’ and ways that art and environmentalism could be feminist, queer, sensual, and exuberant. This fed into the work I was making; sensual, erotic, jubilant, fragile forest bodies.”

Archival imagery of Woodend, the former home of the Sitwell family, with trellis mounted on the walls, informed installation decisions, allowing the artist to create a sensory, exploratory experience for the audience within the space. The imagery within the works is inspired by the locations visited by the artist during her residency At Dalby Forest, UK. Leaf, seed, tree and cloud forms contrast with human-made objects and colours seen around Dalby Forest such as solar panels, wind turbines and route maps. Colours reflect the changing autumnal scenes unfolding in the forest, contrasting with the saturated colours of mountain bikes and outdoor clothing. 

“Psychologically, the space of the forest is, for me, one of expectation, in terms of what is seen, not seen, or around the corner. During my time at Dalby Forest, moments of confidence, relaxation and inspiration contrasted with those of vulnerability, fear and uncertainty. During the day, walking underneath trees arching above me with their dappled leaves, I was safe and embraced. At night, with no phone reception, alone in an unknown space with leaves rattling onto the glass of my window, I felt anxious. Adrenaline flowed inside me.

The exhibition also explores the concept of the word ‘Viriditas’, used by Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 1179) German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer and mystic. ‘Viriditas’ means greenness, freshness, vitality, fruitfulness, or growth and was used by Hildegard to describe divine nature when talking about the human spirit and the natural world. Hildegard’s illustrated religious visions, choral music and her rare recorded words also served as inspiration.

Green’s research at the Scarborough Museums Trust archive during her residency gave her access to the nationally important William J Clarke Charm Collection. Clarke, who was a former keeper of The Rotunda Museum in Scarborough was an avid collector of charms and folklore from around the world. His unparalleled collection of objects and its link between the natural world and spirituality heavily influence Green’s work in this exhibition.

The exhibition asks the audience to think about who the works in Queen Green portray: the natural world and its grand, regal forms, or the artist herself and her fantasy world?’ (Press release, 2021)

Queen Green is supported by Crescent Arts, Scarborough Museums Trust, Arts Council England, and Forestry England. Curated by Martha Cattell and John Heffernan.

 

Photos: Jules Lister