J D Robinson

I am a self-taught artist and photographer who has been painting and drawing from an early age and taking photographs for over three decades. I work in a studio at home in Chalgrove which is  a village just outside Oxford and work to commission  in mixed media, acrylic and oils. I am a member of West Ox Arts and Oxford Art Society. I am drawn towards landscapes, history and people and have done a series of paintings on themes as diverse as childhood memories and Oxford in transition.

In 2019 I was one of the photographers in residence at Oxford Festival of the Arts. I take monthly art classes at SOCA and will be running some photography workshops at SOCA in Lake Street, Oxford from May onwards with two other photographers. In November I will be taking part in a charity card sale in aid of Sobell House hospice at the Jam Factory in Oxford.

Dyke Hills by Jim Robinson OAS WOA, acrylic on canvas 8”x18”

When I first walked along the Dyke Hills, a fresh breeze blew up the wide valley. Hedge Brown butterflies and damselflies followed me as they may have done when Iron Age settlers made this their home. The southernmost ridge shown in this painting was the inner ridge sheltering ancient round houses and enclosures within, but is now a fraction of what must have stood here, smoothed over by time and human hand. Beneath my feet once lay Roman military graves. Nature has reclaimed this eroded landscape with scrubby trees clinging to the sides and strips of scotch thistle creating splashes of dark pink and lavender. Only the sheep grazing in this valley and the occasional rambler or dog walker interrupt this sense of open space and wilderness, once an ideal fortification below Wittenham Clumps.

Creating this artwork has meant deciding which direction to face, which elements of the Dyke Hills to choose to encapsulate the sensory experience of being there. The decision to choose this ridge closest to the original Iron Age settlement comes down to the sense of place and direction that is strongest here. The Dyke Hills to the south of Dorchester were part of a line of ancient sites running up to the Big Rings to the north, built near a cursus monument like Stonehenge in Neolithic times and now under water from the old gravel pits. This was clearly a sacred space, the purpose of which is not fully understood, even today. It highlights an intuitive response to the need for ‘markers’ not only of the physical but also inner landscape of the mind. No map or find from an archaeological dig can give you that. You need to be there to soak up this atmosphere. I can understand the sense of belonging and orientation that spans across time and which we feel instinctively even today. For me, the line of trees to the top left of the painting echo similar lines of tall trees that provide me with markers of the landscape around Didcot, for example.

This painting makes the sky an integral part of the landscape as it would have done when the people living here needed to respond to the weather conditions and the seasons in their daily lives. More importantly, they would have looked up at the stars from this elevated vantage point which would have allowed a clearer, unobstructed view of the heavenly timekeepers that told them when to plant their crops, celebrate sacred occasions, find their way and teach their children these long-forgotten skills. The sky in this painting is therefore almost as much a physical presence as the wild and rugged landscape with its path into the distance beyond. This sense of open wilderness and breeze blowing down the wide valley that was once ‘home’ is what I have tried to recreate with equally wild and earthy colours and brush strokes with the energetic clouds above.

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