Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Artist Uncovered: Gayle Robinson

Natural design 

Although Gayle Robinson’s prints are inspired by the Scottish countryside you will not be able to find their exact location anywhere. The rolling hills, the rows of trees, the earthy furrows have all been carefully pieced together by the artist into her very own imaginary landscape. 
Midsummer Meadows collograph, 68x68cm
Art in Healthcare Collection

Gayle confides that she loves her work and this shows in the vitality of her images, in their composition and colours. Her art form is collograph, a printmaking process based on collage. First you need a rigid board or plate on which to glue your composite elements. These can be anything you like, she explains, fragments of your daily life, string, cut-outs, wrappers and other throwaways, the more textured the better. You can also draw freely on the plate with carborundum, a sand-like compound she mixes with glue. When all these bits and pieces are securely fixed and the glue is dry, you then prepare your paints and apply them with a brush or a roller as thickly or thinly as you like. Thickness is important as it determines the tonal range of the print. The plate is finally pressed onto paper to produce a unique artwork as every print varies in colour. 
Harbour School collograph, 77x77cm
Art in Healthcare Collection

The process sounds like a lot of fun, almost like child’s play. But we should not be deceived by its apparent simplicity, it takes skill and experience to know what tones will work together and how to give depth to the flattened image. Gayle Robinson’s prints are exhibited widely around the UK. They have great feel-good appeal and it comes as no surprise to find that all her works in the Art in Healthcare Collection are out on loan to healthcare settings. 
Pine Tree Panorama collograph, 68x68cm
Art in Healthcare Collection

Gayle was born in Glasgow, the city where she came back to live and work after studying in Aberdeen and Dundee. She works from Glasgow Print Studio where she also teaches. Her early passion for architecture and textiles, for Gustav Klimt and Henri Matisse still inspire her art today, in the linearity of her compositions and her predilection for warm colours. Her technique of choice suits the stunning hues, recurring patterns and abstracted shapes that have become her trademarks. 

 Evening Harvest collograph, 68x68cm
Art in Healthcare Collection

Her interpretation of nature is stylised and at the same time realistic because it is informed by her knowledge of the countryside and its seasonal variations observed during frequent outings with her family. All the time while walking her eyes are storing up information about forms, light and tones which she later brings together into her compositions. 
Spring Fields collograph, 78x23cm
image courtesy of the artist

Gayle Robinson is perfectly in tune with her medium. Balance and harmony are crucial to her practice, not just in terms of composition but also in the synchronisation of life and work. For instance she sometimes notices after she has mixed her colours that they match the clothes she is wearing that day which also happen to reflect the mood she is in and the pretty heart and leaf motifs she currently favours are made with her young daughters’ craft punches. Combined with the shapes she delicately cuts with a scalpel or with pieces of distinctive fabrics like Harris Tweed, they create an ideogram or graphic alphabet that can be readily understood as there is no need of a Rosetta stone to decipher its universal symbols. Her personal language becomes our own. 

With thanks to Gayle Robinson

Martine Foltier Pugh is a freelance writer and visual artist based in Edinburgh


And special thanks to Balfour Beatty Investments and Arts & Business Scotland for their financial support, which has enabled Art in Healthcare to produce 18 Artist Uncovered blog posts and accompanying video productions.

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