If we’re being honest we’re a little biased when it comes to our current exhibition as Robert Clarke, in addition to being a hugely talented and experienced fine artist, is also a member of our box office team.
After his previous stint working in An Grianán, Robert went back to college to pursue a Masters in Fine Art in Belfast and this new exhibition is his first solo one in twelve years.
His previous exhibition to this was When Things are Lost or Fall Away at the Hallward Gallery, Dublin in 2002. Having had three previous solo exhibitions in the Hallward prior to this, he decided to take a break in 2003 to complete a Masters at the University of Ulster.
Robert does not use any paint in the traditional sense but rather uses mediums such as shellac, encaustic, metal leaf and various catalysts to allow surfaces to build up organically through processes of corrosion, adding to and removing over time. Tin and muslin are used in place of traditional canvas, copper leaf is allowed to delicately oxidize and corrode, creating works that are times delicate and ephemeral while other pieces are vivid with bold crimsons and teals.
Fascinated by medieval alchemy and processes of destruction and renewal, Robert is inspired by the landscape around him:
“I use surfaces and materials found within the local rural landscape as the starting point, these abstractions like their subject matter are allowed evolve and change. This physicality is coupled with a long standing interest in alchemical process, how through embracing loss or seeming decay things get torn into separate elements in order to be reformed into something new. As the line weaves and interweaves between the material/spiritual and the visible/invisible these inner landscapes are allowed emerge. We learn through our use of materials or through speeding up the processes of nature, that when all seems lost or ruined we find the true essence, the seeds and smoors that can hasten a cycle of renewal.”
Based in Newmills, Letterkenny, Robert graduated from the National College of Art in Dublin with a First Class Honours in Fine Art Painting. He has work in collections including the O.P.W, K.P.M.G, the Contemporary Irish Art Society as well as various private collections. He is currently exploring opportunities to study at PHD level.