Robin Richmond is a painter with an international reputation. Her work is in private, corporate and museum collections around the world.
Autumn News 2023
It’s been a productive summer in the French studio. With few distractions and with some field trips to the Italian Dolomites and the Spanish Pyrenees, my eyes are full of mountain peaks, deep gorges, and crystalline lakes. The new work explores the notion that landscape is a visual representation of Time. That mountain peaks were once river beds aeons ago, is a constant source of amazement. It is geological alchemy. Mineral History. When I saw the “Ice mummy” known as Ützi in the museum in Bolzano this summer, I was struck by how this man, immured in ice for 5,300 years, was made of the mountains.
My way of working these days deliberately invokes this notion of accretion and destruction. What is left. I use my huge treasure chest of torn papers as my palette. I prepare the paper in advance, knowing which colours and shapes I will need in the final work, and the shards of paper evoke the traces that weather – wind, storms and glacial movement – impose on the landscape. As I add more colour, more texture, and more substance, the chest becomes a metaphor for the constantly shifting landscape. Rifling through my chest of paper is an avalanche of colour. When I work into these shards, as I rip and reshape, layer after layer of colour finally reveals itself underneath the final image, like a palimpsest. One painting leads to another.
In some ways they are all one painting. Some of these paintings will be on show at the Bankside Gallery in October 2023 in a show called Risk curated by the Royal Watercolour Society.
A corner of the Studio
The Treasure Chest
Summer News 2023
On June 7, 2023 the inaugural exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society’s new exhibition space will open on Whitcomb Street, next to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. This is a historic occasion as this is the gallery where the Society was based 200 years ago. Spread across both of the newly renovated ground and lower ground gallery spaces, RWS NOW will feature original artworks in water-based media by almost every present day artist Member, Associate, Guest and Honorary Members of the RWS. I am very proud to be part of this and I am enormously thrilled that the future of water-based painting is secured as the Society has taken a 250-year lease.
I am still working on a series of paintings inspired by a year’s visit to the Chelsea Physic Garden through the seasons, and many of my paintings will be on show at the Bankside Gallery from 14 June.
March News 2023
I have just finished a major new painting which has come out of a very productive visit to Provence. I have used ground red ochre paint from Les Ocres de France in Apt. The crumbling walls in the town of Roussillon are an inspiration.
My four little Alta Garrotxa paintings from the Mineral Histories show left the studio to a collector last year.
I felt utterly bereft.
They were key works, that in their small scale, evoked the drama of the mountain landscape of the Catalunyan Pyrenees. I suspected that they might work really well if scaled up. So, over Christmas 2022, I embarked on two large canvases, and discovered the joy of working big – big by my standards – 120 x 90 cms. Of course now I would love to work even bigger, and I have set my sights on some very large canvases for 2023.
I can work big in London.
I left for France in early January and as I am constrained by the practicalities of transporting work back to London, I went back to working on paper. Some of these works on paper are in the Spring show of the Royal Watercolour Society at the Bankside Gallery opening in March 2023.
A trip in January to wild and freezing Provence was hugely exciting to me. The raw ochres of the Luberon were so beautiful. I found the only factory in France that makes pigment from the rich red and yellow soil of Provence and went on a spree. I like the idea of making paintings about the landscape that are literally made with the landscape itself.
Since the success of my show last month, I am inspired to work on a larger scale and am preparing a polyptych of four large canvases (120 x 90 cm) which will be shown next year. They are an expansion of the four small Alta Garrotxa paintings which are now sold. I am planning a trip in the New Year back to the Catalunyan Pyrenees. High up in the mountains this journey will be a source of many new paintings. I will need snow tires.
Three of my new works on paper are on display at the Bankside Gallery in the Mini Picture Show (9 Dec – 29 Jan 2023) from the Royal Watercolour Society to which I have recently been elected a full member.
For several years I have been working in France on a very successful giclee print collection – to order.
This process enables clients to have a bespoke reproduction of any work in my galleries. They are signed artists proofs. I have now found a London printer who produces high quality giclee prints to order, under my direct supervision, on 350 gram per square metre Hahnemuehle Matt etching paper. These prints are extremely accurate reproductions of the works and come in sizes ranging from A1 (594 x 841 mm) to B2 (500 x 797 mm) to A2 (420 x 594 mm) all the way down to A4. The prices range from £450 for an A1 print down to £250 for the smallest image. The prints can be posted internationally in a cardboard roll directly from the printer once I have signed off the print personally.
November 2022 – Mineral Histories, Coningsby Gallery London
About this show:
My work has undergone a seismic shift since my last one person show, three long, difficult years ago. The pandemic led to a reassessment of my life, as it did for so many people. I have been a landscape painter for 40 years, and that is how I still see myself, but there has been a change in my working practice – how I make a painting. In a perverse and unpredictable way the pandemic was artistically liberating for me. No shows on the horizon with all planned exhibitions cancelled. No studio visits. No one looking over my shoulder. Just me in my studio, doing my lockdown walks on Highbury Fields and Hampstead Heath, digging in my garden and escaping, when possible, to my studio in rural France.
Before Covid turned the world to stone I had made a painting trip to Japan, where I was struck by the philosophy of wabi sabi, which celebrates imperfection and transience. This seemed particularly relevant to the world and to me. I began experimenting. I have always used handmade paper in my work, and with this I discovered a new way to fuse abstraction and narrative landscape. As a child brought up in Rome, I have had a long love affair with archaeology and mosaic, and I began to fuse paper shards of colour that I created in advance as though they were tesserae. Matisse’s cut-outs were also very much in my mind and Japanese kintsugi, the method of joining broken shards of ceramic with seams of gold, creating an imperfect but more meaningful object. I had brought back a stack of very precious gold leaf from Kanazawa, and I began to use this treasure to fuse my deliberately broken, torn, ripped and cut paper shards. I then started to paint over the whole image so the finished painting was more like assemblage than collage. My plan chest was stuffed with unfinished works on paper. I had everything I needed.
And one day, in a daze, I picked up a piece of bloodstone that I had chipped out from a hill side in Utah. It had nestled for years in a pile of rock, dried plants, bones and sea glass that occupies a corner of my studio. I suddenly saw that I had my subject matter. I had my material. It was all there. Mineral Histories. A meditation on the passage of Time. An excavation of memory. A celebration of the natural world. All old ideas for me, but now put together in an entirely new way.
Robin is working at the invitation of the Chelsea Physic Garden on a series of watercolours based on the garden through the seasons, which will be exhibited by the Royal Watercolour Society in 2023.