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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Nick Roberts’ work of a different stripe

Artist interview

Written by Sally Mumby-Croft


Do you set design rules?

Not necessarily, no rx I like to work within parameters or in a certain way. Design provides these. If considering the idea of the viewer as a client, order the tactics of design can be used to produce a certain response from the product. Some principles of design allow you to produce a clear objective from any given piece.


What is the relation of your project to Mathematics?

I do not see it as being very precise, Maths works because it is a complete language for itself, it is pure, but it is not relating itself directly to the world – perhaps we could expand on maths in relation to the world as mysticism often seems to involve numbers. The exhibition at Samuel Smalls is the product of a few tricks with perspective, the design element is a system-based process.
Personally, I do not really like the assumptive nature of science, as science all too often doesn’t even realise it’s own failure or that it is completely ridiculous. If you try and define everything you lose everything.
Life is made up of missing links and misunderstandings. For this reason I am drawn to elements of mysticism. Whilst not interesting in the context of the exhibition at Samuel Smalls, it is something I consider for instance it is interesting in the work of Yves Klein or Wyndem Lewis of the British Futurists idea of Vouixism.


How did the exhibition at Samuel Small’s develop – does research play an active role in the creation of your artwork?

Samuel Smalls provided a blank space, after considering previous work show at (at John’s Space and Graduation Byam Shaw) and new ideas of creating sculptures covered in the Dazzle patterns. I began to research the process of working out how the patterns would fit onto the objects and I subsequently spent a month online downloading all the information I could find on the application of the Dazzle pattern: Warships, Modernist Architecture, Le Corb’s face to Bad Modern Architecture and the interiors and exteriors of buildings. The Internet is a great source of random links and serendipity, whilst researching Le Corb you might stumble across a sailing ship and decide that that object is required in the exhibition space.

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What is your relationship with computers?

Illustrator has provided the opportunity to work through multiple images, you can revise some, print, copy and paste one image unto another document, delete, layer up and layer down. There is a sense of infinite play with computers; it has become almost a way of thinking. The ability to undo or as I said layer up or layer down.
Discuss Edward Wadsworth
I have known about him for a while from DOT DOT DOT magazine, created by Stuart Bailey. He functions as part of my interest in the history of modernism and the Avant Garde, a period I attribute to being 1909 to 1939 (why?).

How does the work relate to ideas of Advertising?

Ideas of scale, art on the scale of advertising, art accessing the emotional layers of advertising, it is not out of place you can get it’s point in a single glance. It is justified solely in terms of its function. The function of the work is to elicit a response, even if the response is ambiguous. But you want to know what the outcome will be eventually, at the same time being able to tap into something that was not known to be there.
Advertising interests because it relies on the function of myth and the ability to manipulate the subliminal.
The Dazzle paintings are not about camouflage, paintings on boats accessed a particular idea about abstract painting at that time. Abstract art on a scale grander than historical pictorial art, it was a collision of brightness and function. They were a mechanisation of art, characteristic of this period, they were painted on the docks, overseen by a foreman and completed by trade painters.

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What is the relation to sculpture in the new exhibition?

It started off cluttered and became simplified. Principles of space are important, as is how the viewer interacts within that space. I consider my work to be sculpture because of the position the viewer inhabits. The viewer is in their own space, but the work gives them an awareness of that space. Where as Painting occupies an ideas space, (you stand in front and project yourself into the frame) with sculpture you enter your own physical space, you become reaware of your position in space.
The prints in the exhibition are static objects that draw attention to the difference in perception required when viewing sculpture compared to painting. They act as a jar within the sculpture, as the prints are flat with their own perception field.

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What was it like to study at Byam Shaw?
It influenced my work, there was a good work ethic and great people. The focus was entirely on the work rather than socialising or hanging out with gallerists. There were no right texts to read and no set texts, just you and the work and the people.

What is next for Nick Roberts?
Working on a musical piece with the intention of doing an opera about La Corb with Rose Daguel and Zoe Paul. Opera’s tendencies for the overblown format perfect for the setting of a falsified history. The history of La Corbusier or his myth an iconic modernist. The opera will feature his influence on 1950’s British Architecture namely at the AA and Patrick Hodgeson who was misunderstood at the time because of his rejectrion of La Corbusier’s modernist brutalist buildings.



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