In a special series, we asked artists associated with the RWA about how the COVID-19 lockdown has affected their life and work. The next artist is Academician and current President of the RWA, Fiona Robinson…
“…[My lockdown drawings] are about enclosed space and the relationship of inside to outside. They express some of the unconscious thoughts that are swirling around in my head in my sleepless nights…”
“As the lockdown commenced I had just finished a large drawing in response to Chopin’s Polonaise. The uncertainty and, to be honest, fear that everyone experienced at this moment unnerved me to the extent that I found it impossible to work.
“I listened to a lot of music and read poetry and then eventually started to go through old sketchbooks of little studies made in Ireland in October 2018 and 2019.
“I had always intended to do a piece of work from them so I slowly, very slowly started on a new drawing. It is big, 83 x 115 cm and I spent as much time looking and thinking as I did making marks and it is a lament of sorts.
“I continued drawing little landscapes and then towards the end of May moved into making very tiny drawings, almost not there, that feel like stains or bruises on the paper. They are about sounds – I have been listening to a lot of birdsong on my morning walks with my dog.
“They are about enclosed space and the relationship of inside to outside. They express some of the unconscious thoughts that are swirling around in my head in my sleepless nights, in my dreams. This is where I am now.”
About the artist
Fiona’s statement: “My work is a response to music but it is also grounded in a sense of place. In so much of what I do location is crucial. My Gabriel Fauré drawings Notes from a small room, and video piece Snatched Moments in 2014 were related to the small room in France in which I was working and The Listening Room by composer Gavin Bryars at Chateau Oiron – an actual room as well as a whole series of pieces of music recorded in specific rooms in the Chateau. Making sense of what is in front of me – landscape, drawing, music – both making music and listening to it – is central.”
Fiona was elected an Academician in 2013, she co-curated major exhibition Strange Worlds: The Vision of Angela Carter in 2017 and was guest curator for Sawdust and Sequins: The Art of the Circus in 2018. In 2019 she was elected President of the RWA.
Concept and interview by Laurel Smart