Robin Richmond is a painter with an international reputation. Her work is in private, corporate and museum collections around the world.
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.