Carol Robertson’s work focuses on geometry and the relationships between colours. From circles to lines and curves, her work endlessly explores these themes. The infinite combinations are always beautiful and surprising and show an amazing level of skill and precision.
Using the rules of geometry allows Robertson complete freedom when it comes to the application of colour. “Adopting the formal restraints of a reductive and often repetitive geometric language takes the chaos out of what otherwise would be an impossibly vast set of visual options upon which to pin my existence,” she says.
Which artists’ tool do you consider essential?
A broad range of paintbrushes. I use large square broad-headed brushes for laying down liquid grounds of diluted oil paint on canvas and a range of much smaller pointed brushes for precise detail. I also use stiff round brushes for stippling and filling in larger areas.
When did you realise you were going to be an artist? Could you describe that moment?
I wanted to become an artist from a very young age. At eight years old I was living in Singapore and I was having lessons at home. Painting and drawing were the two things I was obsessed by. I drew everything and anything.
Tell us about your education. Did it help or hinder your creativity?
I went to an English boarding school that had a wonderful art department with staff who always encouraged me. At 16 I took a year out before doing my A levels. I went to Paris, looked at a great deal of art and also took art classes there.
Then I returned and did my A levels in a year at technical college. As well as art, English and French, I took photography O-level. Again I had great teachers. I was lucky… and I think my subjects gave me a good general education.
My home was in the London area and I wanted to move away from the region to do a foundation course. I chose Cardiff School of Art, which had a fantastic work ethic and very good artists teaching there. I stayed and did my BA in Fine Art (Painting) there before moving back to London to do my MA at Chelsea School of Art.
I always had total support for pursuing a career in the arts.
Who or what is inspiring you the most at the moment?
I have recently been working in France on my fourth artist residency in the Midi-Pyrénées.
The studio is a very old and very beautiful building set on the top of a hill, surrounded by fields and vineyards. I can see the sun rise on one side of the hill and set on the other, followed by the huge expanse of an unpolluted night sky.
Working in this quiet place became a meditation upon nature’s seasonal patterns and the changing quality of light. I am a non-figurative artist but my work is never disconnected from the real world and the colour I use is strongly influenced by my environment.
This location has been a powerful source of inspiration, and related work continues back in my London studio.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
This is a hard one. There are many artists who inspire me. At the moment Malevich is top of my list, especially his Black Square and the stark, displaced geometric paintings.
Carol Robertson was one of nine artists who took part in the group exhibition Perfectionism, at London’s Griffin Gallery.