Carapace opens at The Artshop and Chapel

Carapace opens on 3rd February at the Artshop, Abergavenny.
“Our first exhibition of the year, Philippa Robbins’ Carapace, is an exhibition in which the artist gives us a glimpse into her imaginative world where a cat-wrecked jumper is cherished, a crow and its maker guard each other and the handmade puppets have their own passport photographs.

detail2A  detail from a drawing of a scene from Ravel’s opera for children L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Has My Baby Been Good? 100cm x 140cm Conté on paper. 

mw3The Keepers of Caecarrog acrylic on board 60cm x 59cm

Themes which were introduced in Magical Thinking, of children’s clothing and of safe-keeping, are expanded upon in Carapace.
Philippa Robbins’ imagination is populated with corvids, “the dark stars of the bird world,” with puppets, imaginary worlds and relics of infancy which probe primal and uncanny dimensions, and recall the delights and fears of childhood.
Her paintings are hard-won and emerge after much editing and process, but drawing is always at the start of every piece of work and serves as an intimate clue to the workings of a mind which impresses with its sheer originality.  Elementary, common, childhood experiences are transferred into adult existence, not just through motifs and personal and scavenged imagery, but through her artistic mode of thought. Being so layered, the resulting works seem at once to be both removed from and more closely woven to their original subjects, like a pressed flower or a film still.  
Philippa Robbins lives and works in South Wales.  Born in London in 1964, she studied at LaSalle SIA, Singapore and then at Cardiff College of Art. Her work has been exhibited widely, nationally and internationally, in both solo and group shows. 

making a sellotape figure

1. Wrapping my friend in clingfilm.  She was remarkably calm despite the wrap getting near to her eyes and mouth.

8cJXgwPV4wE1UNlAlZJ956e1BA5ccp1eUa1rJU7XoFY IMG_0936Half wrapped in Sellotape.

IMG_0938The finished cast of the head.


One hand was made mitten-like, the other was wrapped in very thin tape so we could make separate fingers.

IMG_0957 IMG_0961All body parts finished. They’ll be taped together in position once I’ve decided on the stance of the figure. I intend this figure to be one a a few that hang from the ceiling of the Chapel at next year’s show of puppet-inspired work. I will be looking into the possibility of lighting them from within with LED lights and of creating elongated, and hybrid casts too.

birthday puppets

I bought Dave theatre tickets for his birthday and decided that, rather than giving him just the envelope to open, I’d make him a pair of ‘me’ and ‘him’ puppets who would present the tickets to him.

IMG_0249Early on, the heads were hidden in a shoe box between the times I was able to work on them.

IMG_6958I made a blue cotton sleeve for each of them, gave ‘me’ glasses and darker hair, which seemed to work a lot better, and both of them got some hands.

IMG_6957I made little back-fastening gowns for both of them with our dates of birth sewn into the hems. Dave’s has an image of lichen printed on to linen and stitched to the garment, mine has an ammonite. The back is tied with bias-binding.

IMG_0259This is how Dave received his theatre tickets on his birthday.

IMG_9824Yesterday, in front of the woodpile.


the russian prisoner puppet

RPA head made around the dental cast of a friend’s child’s teeth

RP2His legs are detachable and are secured with a loop which fixes through a hole in the trouser top to a little button.

RP3His neck, hands and feet were decorated with Russian prison tattoos.

RP1RP4His blue and white suit was tea stained to look a little older.


the marionettes’ progress

Finished. It measures 52 cm x 180 cm unframed.

IMG_8992Details of the marionettes

IMG_8996 IMG_8997 IMG_8999and of the shadows.


Last week, the gallery owner came to see the framed work for Magical Thinking in August. She saw this tacked to the wall and asked if it could be in the show too. It hadn’t been my intention but she was welcome to it. I told her about my (still evolving!) idea to paint the marionettes individually, to cut them to shape and hang them high on a wall. She liked the idea a lot and has asked to have the work and make an exhibition of it at her new gallery, a chapel, as soon as the body of work is complete.

This, meanwhile, will be framed and hung in Magical Thinking.