Gillian Robertson

Commentary

The art work shown provides an introduction to paintings and drawings from 2002 to the present.

Much of my work in 2002 and 2003 was inspired by the myth of Orpheus in the Underworld and Orpheus’ attempt to defeat death and bring back Eurydice to the surface. The poetic power of Greek mythology was established as something that came to underpin later paintings and remains a strong theme in the work.

From 2004 to 2008 the work reflects a closer interest in field archaeology. The work completed in 2005 and 2006 was developed after following field excavations of various archaeological sites , including an iron age site in Hampshire( 2004-5) and a prehistoric site in Kent ( 2005-6). In the paintings and drawings from this period references can be found to the archaeologists working on site, the animal and human remains found, as well as exploring what prehistory means to an observer in the present. Reflections on the fact that inert materials survive the ravages of time while human life disappears had a major influence.

In 2007- 2008 I made a series of large paintings and smaller works inspired by a visit to the Neolithic passage grave at Newgrange, County Meath. The work from these years explores the feelings of entering the passage grave, which is dark throughout the year but filled with sunlight for about seven hours on the days around the mid winter solstice. The high vaulted ceiling and the circular inscriptions on the megaliths were translated into paintings such as Cloud (2007) and Too Solid Flesh (2008). In attempting to deal with the ambiguities of interpreting prehistoric monuments and inscriptions, the imagery of classical Greece came to the fore. Greek inspired figuration can be found in the paintings, as references to the way that the ancient Greeks focused on the development of the perfect body as a way of combatting chaos and the supernatural. The paintings can perhaps be seen as metaphors for the process of looking for the body within the passage grave.

The most recent work 2009 – 2010 explores ways in which the influence of the art of the past shapes our perceptions of mortality, while also drawing on contemporary landscapes and experiences.

Paintings from 2011 onwards explore the changing appearance of the physical world when working outdoors and in all weathers.  A new world comes into view once across the threshold of the studio door.  Based on water colour sketches made in situ they refer to the landscapes of the Itchen Estuary, the New Forest, the Dorset cliffs and Chesil Beach.  Working for periods outside one becomes aware of  how  the passage of the sun through the day, the season of the year and advent of wind, storms and clouds all shape the way in which we experience the landscape and how we remember it.