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#9

Robert Filby was born in Gt Yarmouth in 1976.
He studied at Bath Spa University College 1995 - 98
and Norwich School of Art and Design 2000 - 01.

Robert Filby has transformed the gallery floor by painting it yellow. This simple device has softened the atmosphere and given the space a warm welcoming glow reminiscent of learner environments. Two new photographs in his series 'Work & Co.' are on display continuing the exploration into cats' reactions to his sculptures. Dotted around the space are several new sculptures. An igneous rock type blob is moulded from toilet paper, a plaster form has had its surface affected by feathering and a watercolour wash has almost camouflaged it against the floor. An elaborate design for a ceramic entryway has been created from clay sausages attached to a plaster block. At the far end of the gallery a bespoke clip frame leans against the wall with the clips visible poking through from the reverse. The normally concealed surface of hardboard is exposed and a chalk drawing can be seen on its surface above a clay underline. Two text paintings also lean against a wall saying 'Please don't come to my party! Sorry I can't come.' in two different fonts.


A discussion between Kaavous Clayton and Robert Filby.

Kaavous Clayton: You've mentioned to me that you want the colour of the gallery floor to be butter yellow for your show. What is it that attracts you to using the colour butter?

Rob Filby: Uh, yellow colours have become a habit for a while. I suppose I'm not really interested in colour, so one at a time is good. It has been pink, but that apparently is controversial now. I'm interested in the level of creativity involved in painting a wall or floor. I guess it makes the rest of the work appear more deliberately put.

KC: Does that mean you're not interested in being controversial?

RF: If I notice it myself, I would cut it out.

KC: Can you get a much more deliberate action than painting a wall or floor?

RF: Well there is no way it was an accident, so no. Your question implies that you think it's quite a succinctly deliberate thing, which I hadn't thought about, but agree with.

KC: Okay. Tell me a bit about ‘Work & Co.‘. What do you look for in the cats' reaction or position?

RF: At the moment I'm making the first few in what I had imagined, but now less so, would be a long series of photographs following the same formula, and so, I am kind of varying the appearance of the image on purpose. Mimicking loose ends. I have the feeling though, that I'm trying to find a formal composition, or a wide appeal in the picture. They are not supposed to be artful, so the opposite. Really, I like that the cat is not interested almost always. Unless they can sit on it or it smells good.

KC: Do you make the sculpture specifically with cats in mind?

RF: I think its hard not to bear them in mind. But I'm better now than I was. I think I was actually making stuff anyway that could easily fit into that position, before I started the photographs. Work that seemed to have the same temperament as a scratching post or whatever. Something that a person would look at and not involve themselves with, and happily.

KC: It sounds like you want to make people uncomfortable or awkward. Where are the advantages in doing that?

RF: No, comfortable.

KC: Sorry. So how do you try to achieve this feeling of comfortableness?

RF: By advocating that there are levels to looking at art. I often felt totally rewarded if I just went to the gallery where a show was on that I wanted to see, and it was shut, or was just too complicated to get in. I enjoyed that distance, and faith. But it's not an aim to make people comfortable either. Plus, for me it's exiting to see artwork and consider it in other terms, as a bucket, or vision. When the meaning is made dormant, as it is often anyway, because for most of its life art is in bubble wrap in a cupboard. To look at it in this light.

KC: Do you enjoy remaining deliberately evasive?

RF: I'm not on the populous' side, so I've always enjoyed the way politicians answer ‘general‘ questions. That apparently is evasive, so yeah.

KC: I've never really thought of your art as political before.

RF: It's not. But I think it shares traits. It's quite conservative, and particular. But you don't get to decide what its relative to. You could compare it with terminal illness or tennis, I don't care.

KC: Tennis.

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