For the past few years Robert’s studio practice has centred on making simple and generally small geometric forms from stacks of material such as canvas and hessian. He has been using a combination of scissor and laser to cut this fabric and then layering as-is, or more recently using PVA to join pieces. The glue has made the stacks more robust and less vulnerable, and also allows more complicated forms.
He has also been experimenting with collaging the fabric flat into pictures, painting the fabric before cutting, and framing stacks of the fabric in deep perspex box-frames. Underlying all this is a desire to make things that are open, transparent and self-explanatory in some way; just form, material and volumes revealing themselves in space.
‘I’m certainly interested to make things that might work somewhere between sculpture, collage, relief, painting or picture. It might sound somewhat old-fashioned to say things like ‘form is content’ or ‘truth to materials’ but these sentiments do strike a chord with me.’
The following was written in June, four months after Rob’s visit:
During a short residency at Stiwdio Maelor in February 2015 I took the opportunity to try some new things and work in ways slightly different to my recent studio practice. This was obviously enforced by the limited period and wintertime, but also the constraints of being away from home and studio, tools and equipment. But I fell into a simple but productive routine of walking in the mornings, taking photographs and collecting material, and then spending the afternoons in the studio room responding in some way to these explorations and finds. The focus of my walks were the countless disused slate quarries that scatter this area and make this mountain environment particularly unique. I visited quarries; Abercorris, Abercwmeiddaw, Aberllefenni, Ratgoed, Esgairgeiliog and Llwyngwern.
I ended up letting the material that I had collected do what it seemed to want to do; falling, piling, pooling and massing around the studio. Earth, slate, wood, and my own shredded cardboard, polythene and paint too. I also bought extra materials and supplies stumbled upon in shops during countless car excursions to Dolgellau and Machynlleth. For my little display at the end of my stay I was happy to open my studio door and show these varied little experiments in situ. I was also invited to use one side of the Maelor shopfront windows which I filled with a mass of shredded cardboard poured into the space. It was the closest I could get to making my own mountain of quarried slate. One comment overheard in the pub next door was that this ‘looked like a termite’s nest’ which didn’t displease me.Stiwdio Maelor warned us that this area had a way of taking hold of you. Since my residency I’ve volunteered – lived and worked – at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) just down the road, worked locally and walked countless more hills and mountains, cwms, coeds and quarries in the area. I’ve found time to continue my practice in North Wales and I seem to be on the verge of moving here. It’s funny how life evolves.I got rained and sleeted off Cader Idris, but on the plus side I did track down Bron Yr Aur, the mythical haunt of Led Zep in the early 70’s. It’s just up the hill from Mach and after all the mystery it’s actually written on the OS map. Another magical spot amongst the many. Finally I have to say my Corris stay took place in an ancient era: BS – Before Shop. People dreamed of one and now it’s finally opened and a great success. I’m actually quite pleased my adventure happened BS.