Today I'm happy to share this interview with artist, Robyn Gordon, whose work I've been admiring for a while. I first came across Robyn via Pinterest as the contents of her wonderfully curated boards resonated so much with what I like. I then discovered that Robyn was an artist herself, living and working in KwaZulu Natal. Inspired by the touch and feel of nature, Robyn creates wooden totems, panels and even quilts, using wire, beads and found objects. These pieces weave a narrative of her life in South Africa – the land, symbols of Africa and her British ancestry. Robyn shares this quote on her website:
"I have tried to study African Art in order to assimilate it into my being, not to copy, but to seek the essence of it, it's spirit and quality of art."
— Hale Woodruff
What's your passion?
Art is my passion. I am art propelled 🙂
What inspired you to become an artist?
I grew up in a household where something wonderful was being created every day. There was always fabric draped over chairs, rolls of pewter on the dining room table or mounds of wrapped clay in the fridge. My mother was an artist and I watched her avidly. Art was a natural path for me to follow.
What has been your greatest obstacle/challenge?
I suppose not being able to take myself seriously as an artist has been one of my greatest obstacles.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
It was only once I started making a good living from selling my art that I began thinking of myself as an artist. Becoming a full time artist was the best thing I could have done. When I realized I could actually be self-reliant thanks to my art, there was no turning back.
What is your greatest achievement?
About 20 years ago, I started a small art-related home business which was very successful. It came to the point where I would either have to expand and employ several people to help me or burn out. A year or two later, I decided to go back to wood sculpture but, the experience I gained running that first small business has been invaluable.
Where will you be in 10 years?
I wonder! Carving has taken quite a toll on my hands and back so, if I'm still able to carve in 10 years time, I will be very happy but, no matter what, I will be creating art in some form.
How does Africa inspire you?
I'm inspired by so much in Africa. The vibrant milling city life to the earthy rural villages; the culture, the music, the legends, colours, textures, shapes and patterns; the traditional wood carvings and contemporary art. Most of all, I'm inspired by the recycling of everything and anything, from discarded newspaper to corroded Kombi taxis. Trash is transformed into all manner of objects and art. From one end of the scale … the smallest wire lizards and tin suitcases being sold on the road side; furniture made from layered cardboard and porridge; wallpaper made from food labels to brighten up township homes; to the other end of the scale … houses made from auto parts in the shape of Boeings or helicopters and El Anatsui's spectacular liquor top tapestries which hang from buildings. Africa is abuzz with creativity and it's extremely contagious.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I think the one thing I have learned repeatedly is that one has to keep moving otherwise it's very easy to stagnate. On my noticeboard I have a quote by Albert Einstein: "Nothing happens until it moves". It is a maxim I try to apply to all parts of my life.
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
Hmmm … I have a few dreams and goals but they're still in the plotting stage.
Images courtesy of Robyn Gordon.
- African Inspiration on Pinterest: From Artist Robyn Gordon
- SA Week: Fine Art – part of a series of posts celebrating the start of the World Cup in South Africa, in 2010
- Inspired: Art from Yda Walt – an artist in South Africa who combines a variety of techniques including linout printing, silk screen printing and hand stitching
- Inspired: A Visit with Artists at Nairobi's GoDown Arts Centre
- Interview with Artist Toyin Odutola
Don't miss an installment – different ways to get your Afri-love delivered. You can also stay up to date by liking the Afri-love Facebook page or following Afri-love (@afrilove) on Twitter or on Google+.
Check out my many Africa-related Pinterest boards covering the arts, design, music and more.
Subscribe for monthly updates with Afri-love highlights and developments, as well as info on interesting events, must-reads and more for you to check out elsewhere.