Henry VIII’s Wives


Sometimes an artwork elicits a fine empathy for “all the living and the dead” by realizing its idiosyncrasies full scale. In a unique move of appropriation, Henry VIII’s Wives (a group consisting of artists Bob Grieve, Rachel Dagnall, Sirko Knüpfer, Simon Polli, Per Sander, and Lucy Skaer) have reconstructed the Neolithic Orkney village of Skara Brae, complete with burial house, residential areas, and a communal workshop. This artistic one-to-one reimagination doesn’t pander to fetishized production values but engages instead in a bricolage of both abstract and palpable historical material. The reconstruction itself is made of recycled MDF; untreated surfaces and pencil traces bear witness to the fact that the material was once another artwork at Tramway. The work’s inorganic forms make it vaguely futuristic, like a digital landscape, a stylized crystalline world, but they also evoke the

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