My work has been described as visual scepticism. I use the visual as a means of challenging received notions of truth and reality, and within the portrait genre notion of self, identity and beauty.
To this end it is centred on the belief that art is not made but found.
Identity is at the core of every social movement and it informs who we are and how we are. It shapes and forms our understanding of our place in the world and defines the laws we create for ourselves and by which we live. The notion of subjectivity, and its manifestation within the visual arts is a complicated and vexed one. Its role and authenticity in contemporary life and the way in which various strategies are employed to find a satisfactory expression; points to a specific and highly mediated understanding of what this can be. In the light of the recent decision to leave the EU this has become an almost impossible issue to resolve. Clarity is hard to reach and satisfaction impossible to sustain.
The Brexit referendum was a referendum about the identity of the UK and its inhabitants. How are artists going to react to this issue? The traditional portrait is a highly political image, and in this age of political flux, not to mention gender fluidity, sexual experimentation and the ability to create new virtual representations of the self, can the need for a “likeness” be reconciled with the inability to find a satisfactory visual lexicon with which to do so
I use digital collage techniques and image manipulation software to explore the stress' and strains upon accepted notions of contemporary subjectivity and redefine what this can mean in a post Brexit society.
CV & Education
5 Princes Terrace, Dymchurch Road, Hythe, Kent CT21 6LS
- MA Drawing As Process Kingston University, 2004
- BA Fine Art, Painting, Norwich School of Art, 1990
Selected Art Projects/Exhibitions (http://www.robbirch.com)
Post Referendum Portraits: The Bowery, Leeds April 2018
Everybody Gets What No Body Wants: Mus Gallery, London March 2018
Post Referendum Portraits: Canvas and Cream Gallery, London. November 2017
· AiR Competition- Summer Group Show 2017, Muse Gallery, London July 2017
· Creekside Open, APT gallery, London. June 2017
· “How We Are What We Are” (as part of M/Phil research project “I Used to be The Future Once”, starting 09/2017); These images examine the relationship between identity and the capitalist project. The works redefine the process’ of expression of identity as a means of subjugating, overseeing and exploiting notions of self to serve other social/political agenda
· “Following Ships Until the End of Their Journey” (2016) Ibero-American Arts Award work accepted for group exhibition on the theme of Utopia.
· “Albion” (2016) Exploring the English landscape through a post Brexit experience. A series of largescale digital collages and prints
· “Fractal Identities” (2016) Current ongoing project exploring the way we are no longer able to call upon the forms and structures generated from within society to understand notions of self and subjectivity. This project forms the basis of a draft research proposal to be submitted late 2016
· “The 14 Stations Of The Cross” (2016): A reimagining of Christ’s journey to the cross, using found images and contemporary photography from the current conflict in the Middle East.
· “The Last Judgement” (2016): Ongoing large scale digital image inspired by Michelangelo’s last judgment.
· “Things My Mother Use To Say” (2015): A series of digital prints combining contemporary political leaders juxtaposed with homilies and traditional slang and dialects.
· “Words Of Wisdom From An Unexpected Source” (2015): Short film made in collaboration with Dr Candice Howarth, Senior Research Fellow Climate Action & Cultural Systems. It was commissioned by the Global Sustainability Institute and was shown at the Global Sustainability Research conference 2015. https://vimeo.com/user1032555/words
· Romsey Beats (2014): Working in collaboration with the Romsey Arts Festival and young people to make five films made in five days. These films used music from bands playing as part of the festival and were shown at a special showcase event (https://vimeo.com/119495845).
· “Jerusalem” (2013): A film about the Secret spaces of London. (https://vimeo.com/user1032555/jerusalem)
· “The Elephant In The Room” (2013): A film about how we cede the power to shape form and decide our own destiny and hand it to those that would exploit us for their own personal gratification.
· “Hysteria” (2013): A film where popular culture and society meet (https://vimeo.com/user1032555/hysteria)
· “Half Life” (2013): A sub conscious drift through the marginlised spaces where nature and human endeavour sit side by side (https://vimeo.com/user1032555/halflife)
· “The Ghosts And The Living” (2012): A film made as part of the Redgate Residency, Beijing, China using the drift to create a multi viewed portrait of a small village in China (https://vimeo.com/user1032555/theghostsandtheliving).
Examples of other film and moving image work as well as digital collage and prints can be viewed at http://www.robbirch.com