Lorna Robertson’s colourful paintings, often made with a combination of oil paint and collage, have a distinctly nostalgic tone. Shimmering female forms with swinging skirts from the 1950s or bonneted bathers from the 1920s jostle with richly described interiors and crowded tabletops. Hints and glimpses of tangible forms – a fashion model, for example, or a vase – appear and then fragment into patterns and explosions of colour. ‘My paintings,’ Robertson says, ‘sit somewhere between abstraction and figuration, a tangled game of hide-and-seek that plays with the visibility and readability of an image. I often paint to find out what to paint, creating harmonies and tensions through placement of shape, specificity of colour – the process itself becoming an act of revealing.’
This new publication coincides with Robertson’s exhibition at Ingleby Gallery and is divided into sections that feature collections of recent large paintings by the artist (2015–2022), small paintings (all 2022) and works on paper (2016–2022), all of which demonstrate Robertson’s characteristic layered interpretations of the female form alongside recurring motifs such as hats, long dresses and flowers. Her drawings (2018–2020) offer fluid forms in ink, pencil and watercolour. These reproductions are accompanied by photographs of Robertson’s busy studio walls and painting tools which provide an intimate picture of her working environment and processes.
An essay by art critic Hettie Judah explores Robertson’s work in terms of pattern, costume and architecture, drawing out key inspirations including tapestry, advertising and magazine design through abstracted forms. The influence of contemporary female painters and those from art history is further considered. Robertson’s paintings ‘are often composed like sound works, punctuated by returning motifs, balanced between harmony and discord, built up in many layers of different elements.’ But, warns Judah, ‘Don’t be fooled by the cool abstraction, there’s feeling here too – memory floods in waves of colour and rhythm through these.’
In a second text, Robertson is in conversation with artist and writer Mikey Cuddihy. This frank interview reveals much about Robertson’s intuitive working processes: from starting points, colour decisions, the rhythms of brushwork and considerations of scale, to the wider relationship between text, music, drawing and painting.
The publication is edited by Ingleby Gallery, designed by Joanna Deans, Identity, printed by Albe De Coker, and co-published by Ingleby, Edinburgh, and Anomie, London. The publication coincides with Robertson’s first solo exhibition 'thoughts, meals, days' at Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, in 2022. The artist is represented by Ingleby Gallery.
Lorna Robertson was born in Ayr on the west coast of Scotland in 1967. She studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee and currently lives and works in Glasgow. Recent public solo exhibitions of work by Robertson include Kodachroma, Glasgow Project Room (2013); This Dark Ceiling, Intermedia Gallery, C.C.A, Glasgow (2008); The Overlooked, Atelier Am Eck, Dusseldorf, Germany (2006) and New Paintings, 64 Osborne Street, Glasgow (2005). Robertson’s group exhibition credits include Once Upon a Time, Flora Fairbairn, The Portman Estate, London (2022); Faces in the Water, Ingleby at Cromwell Place, South Kensington, London (2021); Brexit: Mail Art from a Small Island, Sipgate Shows, Düsseldorf, Germany (2019); Lorna Robertson and Robert MacBryde, Kingsgate Project Space, London (2019); Psychopathology of Everyday life, Glasgow Project Room (2011); and Vistas, Glasgow Project Room (2003). The artist was awarded the John Kinross Traveling Scholarship to Florence in 1990 and the Summer Scholarship, Hospitalfield School of Art, Arbroath, Scotland in 1989.
160pp, hardback, 260 × 210 mm, c.100 images
RRP: £28 / €33 / $35
UK release date: 15 September 2022
US release date: 20 October 2022
Texts by Hettie Judah and Mikey Cuddihy
Edited by Ingleby, Edinburgh
Designed by Jo Deans, Identity
Co-published by Ingleby, Edinburgh, and Anomie Publishing, London
Images © Lorna Robertson, 2022. Courtesy the artist and Ingleby, Edinburgh.
Photography by John McKenzie