Artist Profile: Mandy Robinson

Mandy Robinson is the artist behind the image featured on the PODzome invitation. Here she shares her thoughts on the work she created for this exhibition.


How did you get involved with the Podzome exhibition ?

I was invited to submit a proposal by the wonderful Ms Jen Denzin.


What inspired you to create your Podzome piece ?

Jen talked to us about the Rhizome theory of connectivity, and in just such a series of strange connections I came across a fragment of poetry by T.S.Eliot (East Coker, the second of his  Four Quartets) which began with the lineIn my beginning is my end. I read the poem, and, while I do not claim to be any kind of literary scholar, my interpretation is that the poem speaks about the inescapable passage of time, and our connections to the past, present and future – to the people here with us now, to those who came before and will come after us, and to the planet and all its other inhabitants, past, present and future. For the most part the poem’s quite depressing message seems to be that we do here is laughably futile: it is the dancers (us, or our predecessors) who have all gone under the hill, and it is our houses that have all gone under the sea.

In a time when it seems highly unlikely that we can go on for too much longer living in the way that we are currently, the most hopeful thought that occurs to me is that whatever damage we do, however many species we take with us to extinction, however toxically we have combined the elements, the elements will inevitably remain, and something new will grow out of what we leave behind. We are happily insignificant in the big scheme of things. The poem ends with the more optimistic line : In my end is my beginning.


How did you feel your piece fitted with the theme?

I have made a series of twenty five drawings, all different, but all of the same structure and subject (long-internode [grass-like] rhizomatous plants of my own invention) and all connected by line, shape and (lack of) colour. I scanned the drawings and printed them onto sections of old deposited plans, and pinned these together on the wall. My idea was that each smaller section would function as a drawing in its own right, but that together the drawings would form a new composite image – a larger plan or map, in the same way that small sections of grass form a lawn, or small pieces of cloth form a quilt.

The lumpen objects that stand in front of the drawings are formed over armatures constructed from discarded electrical appliances and empty plastic and glass containers, to represent a kind of short-internode [ginger-like] rhizomatous species. These are intended to illustrate the idea that though the past uses of the planet (by our own and other species) have been obscured to our view over time, they have helped to inform its current shape. They are full of the possibility of new growth.

I liked the idea that the theme also allowed me to move from (my usual) two to three dimensional work in a connected, supported rhizomatous way.


What made you choose the medium you did, to represent the Podzome theme?

I like to re-use materials wherever possible, for the two-dimensional part of my project I used old deposited plans that I collected whilst working for my brother’s surveying and town-planning business. These were routinely culled from the files as they became outdated. I kept them at the time because I liked their various colours and textures. I printed my drawings onto these because it nicely conveyed my idea that in time weeds will grow through the ruins of whatever we build, which I think about as a positive thing (we will wipe ourselves out, but the planet will go on, new species will emerge.)

For the three dimensional part I used, as stated above, an old toaster, and old juicer, empty plastic containers and bottles. I bought 1.5 metres of new red felt, the only new component apart from the ink, to obscure the structures underneath and unify the objects for their new role.


What are you hoping to achieve from this exhibition?

I have enjoyed making the work for this exhibition, and working to the theme Jen proposed. I hope people will come and have a look at the show, it has been great to have the opportunity to exhibit with Jen, Jane, Maggie, Penny, Alison, Bree and Brooke, who have all done very strong individual work, that has somehow connected. I hope to achieve more and more new connections.


To see more of Mandy’s work, come to the PODzome exhibition.

Venue: University of Newcastle Gallery

Exhibition opening: Friday 12 September 6-8pm

Exhibition dates: 10 – 27 September

Gallery hours: Wed – Fri 10 – 5, Sat 12 – 4. Other times by appointment.

Access: Both the gallery and toilets are wheelchair accessible. There is one disability parking spot outside the gallery.