Fiona Robinson is a British artist whose primary practice is drawing. She was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize 2012 and the Cheltenham Drawing Prize in 1998. She was awarded the Excellence in Drawing Prize at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol in 2011 and was third Prizewinner at the 4th International Bieniale of Drawing in Sydney Australia in 2007. She won the University of Bath Painting Prize in 2007. She is an elected Academician of the Royal West of England Academy. As a free-lance writer she is known for writing about contemporary art from an artist’s perspective. She lives and works in Dorset, England and La Vienne, France.
About the work
My drawings merge diverse influences from landscape, music and literature, examining relationships between repetition and process across different art forms. My current work is directly related to music and had its genesis in exploratory drawings made whilst listening to John Cage’s pieces for prepared piano. Strings soaked in Chinese ink were plucked repeatedly and the sound of them snapping against the paper was a significant element of the process. The Cage drawings were a turning point leading directly to work exploring the deeply emotional charge of Bach’s Suites for unaccompanied cello. In the Bach drawings I pursued a deeper engagement with the music, creating an interaction of sound, vigorous movement and mark-making whilst listening to the differing interpretations of the suites by Pablo Casals, Yo Yo Ma and Pieter Wispelwey.
The first drawings were physical; intensely responsive to the mood, major and minor keys of the different suites and often executed at exhilarating speed. In later drawings, selected marks extracted from studies, were layered, rubbed away, and redrawn repeatedly, providing a free-flowing undercurrent of line and space over which a structure, acknowledging the measured framework of the Baroque music, was superimposed. Throughout, however, it was the passionate, least Baroque interpretation by Pablo Casals with which I identified most closely.
Following my immersion in the Bach Cello Suites I returned to John Cage after discovering his lyrically beautiful short piece for piano, In a Landscape, composed in 1948. I am still working on drawings exploring this music. This past summer, in France, I spent most of my days in s small room listening to string music by the French composer Gustave Fauré. The drawings, Notes from a small room, are at present small, but again an ongoing exploration, responding not only to the music but to the echoes of the sounds within that small space and to the sense of place.
Drawing as the most direct form of visual communication, eye to brain to hand, has always been at the centre of my practice, from initial exploratory sketches through to finished work. I like the fact that ‘drawing’ exists as both verb and noun but that, in its form as a noun, it fails to provide an adequate label for those whose practice is contemporary drawing. It leaves drawing open to interpretation, endowing it with an almost maverick freedom allowing it to take any direction, to use any media and to respond to any stimuli.