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Sally wins!

Robinson, S. The Artist's Mother, 2012

Robinson, S. The Artist’s Mother, 2012

This week the 2012 Portia Geach Memorial Prize was awarded to Sally Robinson. And to a magnificent portrait of her dying mother.

Originally trained as a screen printer, Robinson constructs her paintings in layers of dots, dashes and squares using hand-made stencils and brush. Her paintings offer a bipartisan interpretation – on one hand they provide a simplified image, where essential information has been forced through a sieve and boiled down; condensed into a cluster of dots much like a newspaper photograph. She filters out the superfluous and leads us to the important stuff.

But at the same time she blurs the boundaries of our understanding with overlaid colour and finely wrought tone. While the face hums with aliveness it also evokes a poorly focussed camera – it’s pixelated, fragmented and broken into tiny bits. Robinson works in a continual process of exposure and obliteration. Emphasis and obfuscation. Addition and subtraction. We are forced to position ourselves, to decide how to see this image. Get up too close and we’re lost in a sea of dots and dashes, stand further back and the image resolves as with a pass of the windscreen wiper. Brutal and clarifying.

There is something palpably real in The Artist’s Mother. Looking into the eyes, gender and age are forgotten and humanness is revealed.

A fine selection by the judges and one that would have done the artist’s mother proud.

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