RWA @ The Atkinson Galleries: Interviews 2

In conjunction with RWA @ The Atkinson we asked some of the Academicians involved to answer a few questions about their current practice and what it means to be an Academician. Here, Academician Council members Fiona Robinson and Louise Balaam give us some insights into their lives as artists:

Fiona Robinson

RWA: What are you working on at the moment?

FR: I am currently working my way though Debussy’s music and have just finished a drawing of La Mer and I am now doing drawings of Prelude à L’Après-midi d’un faun.  Debussy wrote the Prelude in response to a poem by his friend Mallarmé  which now seems very dated but the music itself is very beautiful and yearning.  It was also made into a ballet for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes and the Faun was danced by Nijinsky.  My work has been music based for some time, ranging from Bach to John Cage, Gustave Fauré and now Debussy but everything around me from landscape, trees, the sea, words that I read and sounds that I listen too from birdsong to piano and violin, inform and enrich what I do.  

RWA: What does being an RWA Academician mean to you?

FR: I was very honoured to be made an Academician and it has made a big difference to my life as an artist.  Practicing as an artist is often very solitary and the RWA and the artists within it have provided opportunities for discussing work, forging strong friendships and the chance to get involved in the processes of  curating, selecting and organising exhibitions.

RWA: Who is your hero?

FR: Heroes are too many to mention really:  Agnes Martin, Brice Marden, Eva Hesse, lots of unknown Renaissance artists who made exquisite drawings.

RWA: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

FR: Years ago if someone had asked me what I would be if I was not an artist I would have said a dancer but now I am much more involved in music so I think I would probably go with musician, it was always a difficult choice between the two.

Louise Balaam

RWA: What are you working on at the moment?

LB: I'm continuing to develop my work - at the moment I'm discovering the North Kent marshes near where I live, drawing there and then painting in my studio. I'm exploring a slightly more abstract way of working, still landscape-based but allowing myself a bit more freedom in terms of composition, etc.

RWA: Where do you find inspiration?

LB: I'm always inspired by landscape - I particularly love high places, such as the North and South Downs, and ancient sites such as hill forts and barrows. I tend to seek out wild, unpopulated landscapes. Perhaps surprisingly, there are lots of places like that near where I live in Kent where I often go to draw, and I also travel when I can to Norfolk, Wales, Cornwall or the North-West Highlands of Scotland.

RWA: What does being an RWA Academician mean to you?

LB: I'm so thrilled to have been elected an Academician. It's given me the chance to show regularly in the RWA, to become involved with the workings of the Academy (as a member of the Council) and above all to connect with many wonderful contemporary artists.

RWA: Who is your hero?

LB: My hero would be Joan Eardley, a Scottish artist who worked in the 40's and 50's. I particularly admire her land and seascapes, often painted on the coast in terrible weather. I find a real strength and intensity in her work, and a determination to push the boundaries at a time when women artists weren't always taken as seriously as they deserved.

RWA: If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

LB: What a difficult question. If I hadn't been an artist I would have liked to have been an archeaologist - working outside of course! - and getting to know some bits of the landscape very well while making exciting discoveries about the past - thrilling.

RWA @ The Atkinson runs until 15 October 2016, 9.30am - 5.00pm (closed on Sundays) at The Atkinson Gallery, Millfield School, Street, BA16 0YD.