Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Robin at the start of his modest career, age 12

Robin at the start of his modest career, age 12

‘Slow Art’ at the Forum

Robin Holtom accompanies his exhibition, ‘Slow Art’, with a talk this Saturday 16 August at 2pm, entitled: 

“How to fail better”, where he explains the processes and approaches to this particular batch of work. The paintings have taken months or even years to reach their finishing point, although
 Robin has been painting in oils for sixty years – almost without a break. Nick Weekes asked him a few questions.

Robin Holtom

Robin Holtom

The work going up on the walls of Hastings Arts Forum today has the look of a cross-section. Many themes are represented: cool interiors, dance rehearsals, landscapes and nudes. What ties them together is the time taken in execution. These are all paintings that needed more and took much longer to complete than usual.

I talk to Robin  as he hangs his new exhibition.

NW: What affects your ability to finish a piece, is it to do with subject matter?

RH: No, it’s much more complicated. There has to be a feeling that it’s right. There’s a saying – to get an artist to finish, first get them to paint it, then get someone to shoot them. Pierre Bonnard famously made some corrections to a painting of his in the Luxembourg Museum in Paris. He got a friend of his to distract the attendant and took out some paints and a brush from under his coat to improve the painting on the gallery wall.

NW: Is it the same for all your work, that you find it difficult to leave it alone?

Robin Holtom, Pink/Blue Nude

Robin Holtom, Pink/Blue Nude

RH: It is difficult.

NW: When you started painting as a child did you find it easy?

RH: Usually it was easy. My parents weren’t unsupportive either but I had to convince them that I’d become an art teacher and earn some money from it. I did become an art teacher and an art therapist ultimately.


NW: What do you mean by “Failing Better”?

RH: It’s a Quote from “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. I’m saying art shouldn’t be about perfection, it’s more about trying harder.

NW: I like the use of colour in your work, do you have a theory or a system that you use?

RH: Bonnard said of colour that drawing is emotional, colour is intellectual. I would say that for me drawing is feeling and colour is thinking. Bonnard is something of a hero to me.

Robin holds up a painting and shows me the title on the back, it’s “Pink Nude” turning it round to reveal a blue nude. “This is evidence enough of what’s going on”, he says.

Robin Holtom – Slow Art, 14 – 26 Aug

Artist’s talk
“Failing Better”  Saturday 16 Aug at 2pm

Free admission

Hastings Arts Forum
36, Marina
St Leonards on Sea
East Sussex
 TN38 0BU
Tel: 01424 201 636

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Posted 15:15 Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

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