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Carol Robertson Dark City Light City

Dark City Light City
Michèle Roberts & Carol Robertson

ISBN: 978-0-9550945-3-8
Published by Trace Editions
Published in May 2007

I am an abstract artist, a painter. What do I look for when I walk through London, using the metaphor of visual footsteps? How do I convert what I see and feel into images within which to place a writer's voices? I can never predict in advance of an experience the things that will end up being significant, but I do need formal outlines within which to place myself: here, carefully mapping out in advance the routes for ten walks around the city. Less the flaneuse; more the female pedestrian equivalent of a Route-Master bus, predicting in advance how long, how far and at what time I aim to start and finish my journeys.

I walk with the purpose of looking and seeing and gathering all kinds of small details, most of which are jettisoned but some of which endure, later becoming encapsulated into paintings; freeze-frame equivalents of painted colour and light, intense optical rhythms of multi-coloured circles and stripes. It is never just one fixed view or one incident that makes up the whole, but the sensory mix, the ever-changing complexity and mood of this city, day and night, summer and winter.

I record each walk with a camera, collecting a strange kaleidoscope of images; all kinds of things that catch my eye. The photographs become my aide-memoires for painting a single watercolour to express the character of each walk. I tend to avoid taking photographs of people. I find the camera too conspicuous, too intrusive. It is Michele who invisibly summons people, relocating their street-talk and chatter between the pages of this book. The first watercolour I make, during the summer heatwave of 2006, recalls a walk from my home in Hackney to my Shoreditch studio, by way of London Fields, Broadway Market and the Regent's Canal towpath. I've grown to love this walk, taking it on an almost daily basis, yet every day I see something different. After recording this particular day's walk in June, I take almost the same route on a stormy November afternoon. I am struck by how much has altered since the summer. It's not just the weather and seasonal light that are different, but so many other details. I photograph new apartments rapidly rising from canal-side building sites, scaffolding everywhere; a new rail bridge over the canal has been nearly completed; the weekday road through Broadway Market is quiet, missing the jostling melee of people and colour of Saturday market-day; a low sun lights up London Fields.

Some of my walks draw me further into the heart of the city: a circular walk around Soho and China Town on a neon-lit summer's night; or starting at dusk on one of the hottest nights of the year, walking across five Thames bridges from St Paul's to Westminster and back. At night everything changes.

I hear the city, but it is the quality of light, the architectural structures and skyline, the colour of commerce, the fountains and flowing water, the hidden corners and open spaces that make the right connections. I see the movement of traffic as a trail of head-lamps and tail-lights and the movement of people like chaotic woven patterns that follow their own weird logic. This city: where the voices live.

Text © Mel Gooding 1996
Images © Carol Robertson 1996

French Paintings
Colour Stream
Life Lines 1
Life Lines 2
Life Lines 3
Life Lines 4
Life Lines 5
Life Lines 6
Life Lines 7
Life Lines 8
Life Lines 9
Life Lines 10
Abstract Realities Part 1
A Breed of Life
Dark City Light City
This City 1
This City 2
This City 3
This City 4
This City 5
This City 6
This City 7
This City 8
This City 9
This City 10
Year 2005
January 22, 2004
February 6, 2004
March 11, 2004
April 21, 2004
May 12, 2004
June 30, 2004
July 28, 2004
August 11, 2004
September 13, 2004
October 21, 2004
November 4, 2004
December 2, 2004
New Paintings 2000
Recent Paintings 1996
© 2017 Carol Robertson