ROBERTSON IS A SELF-TAUGHT ARTIST. SHE WAS BORN AND RAISED IN WALES, IN THE UK, AND MOVED TO AMERICA IN HER LATE 20'S, LIVING IN CALIFORNIA FOR 7 YEARS BEFORE SETTLING ON CAPE COD IN 1999. SHE IS DRAWN ESPECIALLY TO MAPS FOR MANY REASONS: "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 AS A VERY SMALL CHILD. I LOVED SPENDING TIME IN THE CAR, WITH ME BEING IN CHARGE OF 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, MAPS GIVE ME A PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL CONNECTION TO A TIME AND PLACE LEFT BEHIND, AND THE REASSURANCE THAT IT MIGHT BE RETURNED TO IN THE FUTURE.
I am a self-taught collage artist originally from the UK, now living in North Truro on Cape Cod. My source materials are mostly paper ephemera, though I occasionally include mixed media components in my work.
I make art from items that were created for some other purpose, now isolated from their original function and given a new, more unique role and a life beyond what was initially intended. It's not about repurposing or recycling, but about seeing everyday things in a different way; using two or more elements and making them better for being together. And by using different items from different sources I combine their individual histories, and in doing so create a new collective history.
My art is about stories and secrets - both wanting to share them and needing to keep them hidden. A way to express parts of myself that otherwise go unseen. A chance to hint at hidden truths. Recently my work has included a short piece of writing, perhaps a sentence, or just a few words, a story that reveals something about the figures I’ve created. The Petite Postage Portraits, new characters created from old postage stamps, each just a few inches tall, come with a unique six word story on the back, a story that is told with the minimum of words yet speaks volumes about the character pictured.
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, maps give me a physical and emotional connection to a time and place left behind, and the reassurance that it might be returned to in the future.
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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.