All works are on 30 cm x 30 cm Khadi paper. Khadi paper is a hand-made paper made in India from cotton rag. The irregularity, the deckel edge and non-uniform colour are all characteristics of this robust paper. The paper is primed with gesso and painted with acrylic paint. They are framed in 50 cm x 50 cm dark grey, glazed, box frames.
The Open Books exhibition is curated by Mary Husted who says:
The idea for the exhibition came about following some time I had spent in China in 2004-5, where I had encountered the folding or ‘concertina’ books that artists often use there. I thought that giving out some of these books to artists I knew for them to fill, and then using the results in an exhibition, could form an exciting show …
In 2009, I was invited by the architect Chris Loyn to be Artist in Residence at Stormy Castle, a house that was to be redeveloped by him and his team in Gower. The collaboration led to a series of paintings of the site in progress and to a 102 piece sculpture, Flock.
Stormy Castle has been awarded: RIBA Manser Medal 2014, awarded to the best new home in Britain; RSAW Welsh Architecture Award 2014; National Eisteddfod Gold Medal 2014; Concrete Society 2014 Building Category winner and CIBSE South Wales Region Sustainable Project of the Year Award 2013 .
The Winter Show is on at the Art Shop, Abergavenny from November until January. My work in this show includes an audience of hand puppets. These puppets have in turn inspired a series of wall based works on newsprint and on board.
The puppets are often based on real people, living and dead. However, in the course of their transition from a silver foil closed armature to finished hand puppets, of gummed paper, tape, tissue and dental casts from friends and family, they create their own identities.
In an article for Planet Magazine in May 2014, Dr. Peter Wakelin casts light on the late-starting professional career of the artist Philippa Robbins.
“The pages of Planet seldom feature artists who are widely known. Perhaps it’s a function of being in Wales not to become a household name – we have few galleries to showcase our visual artists and they get scant media attention (Planet notwithstanding) …”
“Magical thinking’ could not be bettered as a word-window into the art of Philippa Robbins. Her themes are magical, often found in folklore, fairytales or the manifestations of the strange around us, but just as magical is her transubstantiation of thoughts into haunting visual images – her translation of woven baskets into a drawn language as intricate and ordered as the baskets themselves, her conjuring of pieces of lace or coral as reliquaries of past life, or her invention of a scene so impossibly familiar that one wonders if it has rekindled a spark of lost memory.”
To coincide with the Welsh Architecture Festival in April, I will be showing work from the Stormy Castle project at the Art Shop’s new Chapel space in Abergavenny. Work includes paintings and a 102 piece installation, Flock.
Definite personalities fascinate children – we have all had favourite aunties, liked strange characters and been drawn to the unusual. This can be difficult to capture in visual art, but some artists have succeeded at conveying characters that children will find interesting. Philippa Robbins has created a whole set of characters especially for this exhibition. They might appear scary at first, but they will make lots of children laugh, and they form a memorable family like you’ve never seen before. She says:
“Dora is a flat, tin Day of the Dead character. She is simply made and there’s something endearing about her despite her being a skeleton. Children are attracted by so many stimuli – from pastel to primary colours, miniature to the grandest scales, and all subject matters, so in deciding how to approach these paintings I drew on things that delighted me as a child. I was often drawn to vulnerable and unusual characters and could invest just about anything vaguely animate – dolls, mummies in the British Museum, animals – with an imagined empathy, a secret connection. As a skeleton there’s something dark about Dora, but if she’s scary, she’s safely scary like Stig of the Dump.”