EXCAVATED VINTAGE MAPS | "EXCAVATIONS" AUGUST, 2017
EXCAVATED VINTAGE STREET ATLASES | "EXCAVATIONS" AUGUST 2017
Sian Robertson grew up in South West Wales, in the UK. She received a BEd (Hons) from Rolle College in Exmouth, Devon and went on to work in the union and non-profit sectors in both Bristol and London until moving to America in 1992. After seven years in San Francisco she settled on Cape Cod running retail stores until 2014. She is currently the assistant director of an
art gallery in Provincetown.
Robertson has never received any formal art training but has been cutting and pasting, amongst many other creative pursuits, since she was about eight. She began to take this ‘hobby’ seriously around 2005 and since then has devoted most of her free time to further her artistic career. She had three solo shows at A Gallery and Adam Peck Gallery, both in Provincetown, since 2015,
where she will also exhibit her most recent body of work in August of this year.
Robertson’s Postage Portraits were featured in Uppercase Magazine in 2015, and her map collages in Provincetown Magazine in 2016. She has had several pieces accepted into juried shows at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, where she also occasionally teaches collage classes.
Maps are of particular interest to me - they are beautiful to look at, they represent areas lived in and places still to visit, and I have incredibly fond memories of learning to map read when I was very young. As a small child I loved spending time in the car, with me navigating our way home.
I clearly remember being excited to predict that there would be a river, or a T-junction, or a hospital a mile ahead, and being thrilled when it was actually there. Now, as an adult, and living on a different continent from where I grew up, maps give me a physical and emotional connection to a time and place left behind, and perhaps a reassurance that it might be returned to
in the future.
I’ve been using maps in my art for some years now. I am driven almost entirely by the aesthetics of the colors and shapes within them. My current work involves ‘excavating’ maps; removing specific areas, which then heightens the focus on others. A city street atlas with all the spaces between the roads removed, but the pages of the book left intact, allows the viewer to peer deep
into the mass of tangled layers of streets, perhaps a symbol of the messiness of interconnected lives. There is both a sense of loss, of the absence of what has been removed, and a sense of endurance, as the roads remain intact within the fragile structure of the now lace like pages.
"We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we
go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there." Pascal
Mercier (Night Train to Lisbon)
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THE SIX WORD STORY
Legend has it that sometime in the 1920s, in the bar at the Algonquin hotel in New York City, Ernest Hemingway bet his fellow drinkers that he could write a novel in six words. On a napkin he scribbled “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”, and promptly collected his winnings.
In reality there is much evidence that almost identical stories were written years before that, and little evidence that the Hemingway version came about due to an alcohol induced gamble, or even that he wrote it at all. But urban myth or not, it’s a great story (both the one about the baby shoes and the one about Hemingway) and the succinct simplicity of the concept speaks to me.
When I’m creating my art, whether cutting up maps or combining magazine clippings with postage stamps, I am very conscious of how the stories behind the pieces evolve and become apparent to me. Changing something like the background, or using a different stamp, completely alters the story; and as I move the elements around and try different combinations, one of them just suddenly feels right, and the story feels written.
When I started my recent series of Petite Postage Portraits, smaller versions of work that I’d been doing for a while, I wanted each to have a written story on the back. Given that the art is made up of just three small components - a postage stamp, a magazine clipping, and a background - it struck me that a six word story was the perfect accompaniment to such a tiny piece of art.