Artist Ryan Skelton gets down and dirty in the English countryside

In collaboration with director Saskia Dixie and 12 fashion designers, Skelton explores the link between nature and sexuality

Artist Ryan Skelton has exhibited his latest project, Land Swallow, at Asylum Chapel in London. The launch show featured photographs from his upcoming book, as well as a live dance performance and a film presentation in collaboration with director Saskia Dixie. The Chapel’s old-world setting provided a fitting backdrop to the project, a transcendental journey which Skelton himself describes as ”an erotic pilgrimage into England’s womb.”

Shot in the English countryside, the book is about – in Skelton’s own words – ”giving up my sexuality and giving it back to the Earth.” In an interview with Dazed, the artist explains: ”Land Swallow was inspired by a quote from Sally Potter’s film adaption of Virginia Woolf’s novel Orlando. The scene of the quote shows Tilda Swinton dramatically running in full Victorian attire over a misty winter landscape, falling onto the grass, and proclaiming ‘Nature, Nature, I’m your bride, take me!’”

 

“No machine or human can create the vast scale of beauty and awe that nature and the natural world can manifest” – Ryan Skelton

Thus inhabiting the spirit of Swinton, Skelton explored how his fervent relationship with the English landscape could be performed on camera. “I was captivated throughout the project into researching photography of the different styles of expressionist dance,” the artist recalls. His resulting portraits are often grainy and somewhat self-detached, as if snapped by a distant voyeur; Skelton himself appears caught in a trance, completely oblivious to the camera’s gaze. Rather than encouraging an active relationship with the viewer, these photos portray an artist enthralled in a passionate embrace with nature.

”No machine or human can create the vast scale of beauty and awe that nature and the natural world can manifest,” Skelton muses. ”Whenever anyone says to me ‘What is beauty?’ – instead of thinking of a person or fashion, etc, I immediately think of the colours of a flower, the drama of the sea, the power of a tree.”

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