Robin Shillcock


Mark a spot before traversing the vastness of the plain. Follow arctic fox and blue hare, lie where the polar bear slept. Mark another spot, on the mountainside, and climb into the sky. What do you see? Waves gnawing at the coast, an inland burnished golden where kangaroos glide over their own shadows. Mark a spot on the green sea, row your boat; let go of the side, swim with dolphins and penguins.
First, there’s a facination for a place. Then there’s this need to hike, to get to know the lie of the land. Mysteries abide in the shadows of undercut riverbanks, in trees standing together as if in conclave, in the way a track winds through rugged terrain. Discovering a place with a sketchbook under my arm is one of my great joys in life. It is then I begin thinking about what a place means to me, of my being there. I want to return again and again. Being there is essential.

In the 70s and 80s I painted primarily with the motif in front of me, finishing work in the field. Each painting was an attempt at faithful representation of place, time of day, weather. The 90s took me further afield, and I shifted to developing paintings in the studio from sketches and watercolours produced in situ. Thus, paintings began to take the place of what I saw, experienced and remembered. A process that may result in small, intimate paintings as well as large, panoramic canvasses up to three metres or more.