Robyn Woolston – Installation, print, photography and moving image

Robyn Woolston

So after arriving 20 minutes late to the first visiting artist’s talk, I very quickly began to kick myself for it. Within probably 30 seconds of walking in, I was already lost in her discourse. The way she engaged her audience was apparent straight away; everyone was silent and mesmerised. The way she spoke openly about her work, and in an inspiring manor but mostly the way she spoke honestly yet intriguingly about the processes and trials and tribulations of being a practicing artist. As much as she didn’t sugarcoat anything and say it was all a straight forward path of roses, emphasising how many hours a day she trawls through pages and pages on etc, she just made me have the confidence to believe that I too, could achieve and succeed. She was inspirational.

It quickly became apparent that Woolston’s underlying backbone and motto was ‘Location/material/Relationship(commission)’. Whenever faced with a situation where she had an abundance of material or a too-good-to-be-true location she would consult this triad to see if it would work, or if she could make it work. Nuggets of information like this are those things that always stick in your mind, and hopefully, rightly so, as it seems to be doing her justice!

Robyn Woolston has a broad scope of projects under her belt, ranging from photography and moving image to print and installations but also covering and digging deep into environmental issues and impacts, waste and causes and effects. ‘Previous installations have included 7500 ice-cream containers, 45,000 carrier bags, a selection of trees from Ash to Silver Birch as well as a reproduction Las Vegas sign. From site-responsive interventions to socially engaged practice she activates spaces by confronting dogmas, re-appropriating ‘waste’ and initiating conversation.’  She is a woman who knows that she can’t single handedly change the world or force anyone to think differently, and she isn’t even saying she’s the epitome of an eco warrior, but she’s very aware that she can talk about issues, and put them in a context that can be seen, understood and hopefully make an impact on a few people and she damn well will when she gets a chance. Talking about it and acting on it is better than doing nothing at all.

One last thing that stuck with me from Woolston’s inspirational lecture, or ‘pep talk’ in this case.. And as much for you, as me, i’ll leave it on that note..  (I didn’t quite manage to get the full quote written down, which I do believe was her own.. but the latter part went something like this..)

‘Try not to allow the exhibition of your work be confined to the walls in your mind – Your work needs an audience; it’s in THEIR minds that the work becomes activated.’

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