Q&A with Ramon Robertson

November 29, 2021

Ramon Robertson has a solo exhibition, Natural Habitats opening on 04 December.


What material/medium do you use?
Mainly plaster and concrete and I also love the use of mixed-media.

Is your work self-portraiture?
Haha! But No. There is sometimes a slight auto-biographical element in the work but never self-portraiture.

What’s the largest and smallest scale you’ve worked to?
The Largest works I’ve made would be my Degree pieces. They were about 500cm long and 150cm high, and 3 of them.
The smallest was a miniature bronze I made at GSA [Glasgow School of Art] in year 2. The budget only allowed for a very small work and the brief said it had to fit in the palm of your hand.

Your work seems architectural, what is your interest in architecture?
My interest in architecture started as a student at GSA. My first interest was ignited by a book called “Unbuilt America” which I still remember carrying around with me as a student. This went on to an interest in Archigram London which is still fascinating today and worth a look. Things just snowballed from there and culminated in my degree show being these large architectural models/sculptures in aluminum steel and concrete. Brutal but beautiful.

How are your figures related to each other?
I don’t know really. Sometimes they relate and sometimes not. Maybe they all demonstrate a healthy preoccupation with the world we live in and sometimes I think there is a little bit of all of us in the sculptures, but I could be wrong. I try not to give myself too many rules and be as experimental as I can when developing new works. This will mean that the figures or sculptures don’t always relate physically or thematically.

Why are the eyes often covered?
The viewer responds differently to the covered eyes. The work is read very differently, which is what I want. I’m more interested in the figure as an object than a figure as representation and the lack of identity on the figures has the effect I’m looking for.



Is the concrete plinth in your work pragmatic or conceptual?
Both really. I use it very practically at times in the plinths but even a simple plinth reminds me of why I use it… It’s highly toxic as a material and is only stable when cast and set. Once it starts to decay, like in architecture, it is toxic again. It’s more of a temporary material than we think, although it looks and feels safe and indestructible; Back in the day builders always talked about concrete’s 50-year cycle before it would deteriorate. For these reasons I always liked the enigma and contradiction of using concrete.

I think concrete is more advanced now and I love the world’s passion for it.

What’s your process?
As I mentioned before, I try not to give myself too many rules and be as experimental as I can when developing new works. Mostly I’ll try to stick with my umbrella theme of architecture but now and then things veer off in different directions. When this happens, I just try to go with it and trust my ideas and imagination. This experimentation sometimes works sometimes doesn’t, but it’s a fun way to work.
Sometimes my approach is more by the book: I’ll research something, design a work based on that research, and then make it.

How would you describe your work?
That’s difficult to answer as I am my worst critic…, but here goes. Experimental, often developmental without resolution, sometimes conceptual sometimes descriptive, naïve, sometimes based on fact, sometimes based on pure imagination, imaginative, slightly edgy, slightly honest…, where do I stop.

Most unfortunate studio mishap?
Nothing too drastic really. I’ve had lots of small breaks or drops of works, a few injuries, cuts etc.

Most memorable artwork/s you have seen in person?
I always loved “Venus de Milo” which I saw when I was about 14 and the aura of it always stayed with me. “Guernica” by Picasso blew me away. I couldn’t stop looking at it. Every time I see Donald Judd’s work it’s fascinating.



Which other artists do you admire (locally and internationally)?
Tony Oursler, Cindy Sherman, Bill Viola, Ralph Steadman, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Donald Judd, Bernie and Donna Harfleet, David Lynch, Matthew Carter, Francisco Goya and many many more.

How has Covid affected/influenced your practice?
Covid has not really influenced my work but it has affected the way I work a little. The disruption caused by school closures meant I had to juggle my time between doing my work and spending time helping the kids do their work, and just spend time with them. For this reason, some weeks were more productive than others. During level 4 I ran out of several different materials so it was a bit of an exercise to try to be productive with what I had. All good though…

What do you like?
I liked Neal Palmer’s answer for this one…
For some reason I like the idea of sitting in an old spit ‘n’ sawdust pub, maybe in the old homeland, having a beer with my boys… when they are old enough.

Morning, evening or all day long?
Trying to think of a song title to answer this one…, ok, got one! “All day and all of the night”… JK
Or maybe it’s more like “Losing my edge”.



What’s your studio soundtrack?
Momma, Roy Irwin, Rugged Moon, BJM and recently enjoying some Claude Debussy, especially Clair de lune.

Tell us about your first sculptural figure?
My very first sculpture at GSA was a figure during my foundation year. It was a timber construction of a figure balancing a large vessel on its head and about 120cm tall. I still enjoy the memory of it.

Studio tool you couldn’t go without?
My mini chisels