Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Yarra Series

Overview of the Yarra Series so far...


The Yarra Series

--> In 2006 I started a long-term project to redocument the Yarra River, its history and environment. Over the next six years I created work following the whole length of the river and exhibited it as it progressed at various venues along the Yarra, this blog is a cronical of those exhibitions. In 2010 I held a major exhibition of this work at Montsalvat Barn Gallery in Eltham. 

Land Memory – Melbourne             2006 -2007

Dimensions 120cm x 100cm

Mixed media – ink, pastel, pencil on canvas

Land Memory depicts the Yarra River winding through the heart of Wurundjeri land. The grid of the city streets is overlayed on an abstract field of ochre, from which emerge various views of Melbourne. The skyline is drawn from a traditional Western perspective and hovers, ghost-like above the land. The human landscape appears as ephemeral or as scars upon the land. Other elements inhabit the layers of the painting including words, dead branches, bar codes, the binary system and the human anatomy. This piece examines the relationship between the human and the natural worlds, and re-maps our city for the 21st Century.


Land Memory – Abbotsford Convent          2006 -2007

Dimensions 120cm x 40cm
Mixed media – ink, acrylic, pencil on canvas

Memory Bridge         2008
Dimensions 120cm x 100com
Mixed media – ink, pastle, pencili on canvas

Memory Bridge is painted from under the long and curvaceous Westgate Bridge that links the East and West sides of the city. From here you can see the historic Science Works located in the original power station. In October 1970, the nearly completed span of the bridge collapsed taking many workers with it. Thirty five people died due to this hideous industrial disaster; their names are included in this piece to honour their memory.
Birrarung Dreams 2006

Mixed media – ink, pastel, pencil, incisions on paper

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Abstract Earth exhibition

Welcome to this blog.

If you haven't been here before that is. Usually I post here are purely about the Yarra Series of artworks that I have been working on for the last four years.

Today I am letting you know about my next exhibition entitled Abstract Earth opening next Tuesday. These paintings and mixed media pieces have a more generalised theme of the Australian Landscape. An idea I have explored through abstraction and highly textured surfaces. Showing for the fist time are recent works as well as many pieces from over the last 15 years.

Here's the invite!

This work gives you a broad overview of my long term interest in ways to represent the landscape. The pieces in this show explore the patterns, colours and textures in nature, and celebrate the distinct beauty and energy of this ancient continent of Australia.

I hope if you are in the area over the next couple of weeks that you might even drop in.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Reflecting on the past

It has been a while now since my very successful exhibition at Montsalvat in December and January. I have been on a journey since, both emotional and physical. I have recently returned from a trip overseas (for family health reasons) which have dominated most of this year so far.

But now I have returned I am reflecting on where I have been with my art in the last year or so.

The show at Montsalvat really was a huge achievement, I have produced a large body of work over the last four years and to see so much of it together in such a special place was a delight, and something the younger me would have been really proud to know I would do. But like many experiences they feel different to how you imagine they might, and like most artists there is an awareness of what you have not yet achieved or fulfilled your full vision. Sometimes it takes a while to see what you have done and feel a deeper sense satisfaction. Perhaps that is for a reason, and that constant craving for something illusive, keeps us striving to explore deeper and make more. A wise friend say to me recently that it can be

So reflecting on my art over the last year or so I am pleased. I have truly been practicing my art in a way that is embedded in life, I have made the space for it (clearing space so that I now have a drawing studio and a painting studio! Mind you I end up painting outside most of the time). I have made time for my art and significantly, I feel I have crossed the invisible threshold into 'Professional Artist' realms, although the difference is strange and a matter of defining shades of grey.

The work is a powerfully emotional one, carrying the weigh of grief I feel for the earth since industrialisation, and Europeans came to claim, kill and divide this land.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The last week of my exhibition has arrived and it has been a wonderful experience so far. To complete and celebrate it I am holding an Artist talk and tour of the exhibition from 1pm this Sunday. I imagine we will be there all afternoon and I would be delighted if you would like to join us at the closing of the latest chapter of the story.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Montsalvat Exhibiton

The Yarra Story
Drawing from the Birrarung

The complete works on
canvas and paper from the Yarra Series 2006-2009,
the fifth and largest exhibition in a series following the Yarra River by

Katie Roberts

7 Hillcrest Ave. Eltham, Victoria, Australia
Opening: Sun 20 Dec 3-5pm
Dec 20 – Jan 31, 2010
Hours: 9-5 everyday (except public holidays)

Your are invited to come follow the river...

This exhibition ‘The Yarra Story – Drawing from the Birrarung’ will reveal the complete body of paintings and drawings by Katie Roberts, capturing a new view on our ancient history and environment. She has been following the Yarra River, making art on its banks for nearly four years - she has now traced almost the whole river from its source to the bay. The Yarra Story presents a unique perspective on this land, one that includes many ways we relate to our environment and ultimately conveys a deep sense of the spirit of this place.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Artist on the River


Artist Katie Roberts by the Yarra River at Warburton.
Photo by Emma Belyea 2009

If you see an artist down by the river, with a canvas or a big roll of paper, it might just be Katie Roberts. She has been mapping its course, making art along the Yarra River, or Birrarung to use its traditional name, for nearly four years now.

Katie Roberts has lived in Melbourne near the Yarra River for over 25 years. She has always been aware of the river's presence snaking its way slowing and silently through Melbourne.

Deciding to be an artist at age four, while living in England, Katie Roberts has been dedicated to that dream ever since. She studied Painting and Drawing at RMIT University, receiving Honours in 2000. Following this, she when on to start a community art gallery in Northcote in 2001. Now 36, Katie Roberts works from her studio at home and sometimes on the banks on the river itself.

Kate Roberts in her home studio 2008.
Photo by Emma Belyea 2008

Katie felt compelled to return to physical mediums of ink and oils and the pleasure of 'making a mess' with materials, after completing her Masters of Fine Art in 2006, which focused on projection installations and light as a medium. After walking along the river one morning the idea of the Yarra Series emerged, a theme she felt had important personal and community resonance. "Over the last few years there has been a great awareness and appreciation of the river and its place at the heart of Melbourne."

A major exhibition at Montsalvat will show the whole body of work. It will open on Sunday 20th December 3-5pm and will continue through January 2010.

Katie Roberts at the Upper Yarra Arts Centre in Warburton
Photo by Emma Belyea 2009

Katie Roberts’ drawings and works on paper were at the Upper Yarra Arts Centre in Warburton in an exhibition entitled The Yarra Story –Drawing from the Birrarung through October. This show was part of a series of exhibitions on this subject, planned for venues along
the river. This chapter of the exhibitions showed the works on paper from the series.

These ink, pastel and pencil pieces explore the river and its layered history, as it winds its way through Melbourne’s urban and natural surrounds. “The Yarra holds a special place in the heart of Melbourne. Even if most people are not unconscious of it all the time, it is central to our lives, and our history” Katie says.

Katie Roberts has developed distinctive map like technique, for works on paper, that evoke the subtleties of satellite images and old documents. They raise ideas about the way maps, deeds and other documents have been imposed on one culture by another. The catchment of the Yarra River, which includes most of the area around Melbourne, is the traditional land of the Wurundjeri People, part of the Kulin Nation. Indigenous people are custodians of the land, a concept which challenges Western ideas of land ownership.

Katie Roberts Division 2006
Ink, pastel, collage mixed media on paper.

The artist is responding to both the history and the contemporary context, her works include modern and historical references, text and images. A juxtaposition that reflects her own sense of the layers of stories, buildings and ghosts of the past. One she is very aware of after years of research , reflection and 'listening' to the landscape.

“I like to work out in the environment, so I can incorporate a deep sense of place into the piece” says Katie Roberts.

By walking along the Birrarung and working within our environment Katie seems to have a real and deep feeling for this land, one that resonates strongly within these highly original works.

(Please contact me if you wish to publish any of this article)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Joy and Exhaustion!

Its two days since my exhibition opening on Sunday. It was a wonderful gathering, in a magical location, on a magnificent day. I was sleep deprived but happy, all my misgivings of the day before vanished when I walked in with my family and thought, this looks pretty good! I had thought it was all terrible only the day before. Its amazing what a difference a bit of distance can make.

I met some fabulous locals who were very passionate about the river, some of my dearest friends and most special people managed to get there and the staff at there were fantastic. There were even a couple of very special guests, including ....Olive the baby possum!

My dear friend is a Foster Mum for stranded wild life, she was due for a feed at 1pm - so she came along.

I also managed to enjoy the lead up to it and the opening too, even thought was an incredible amount of work to do, (I must confess and I did stress a bit). The River Mantra of go with the flow really did seem to help...

So, thats one exhibition done. Now to get to work on the next one(after the last two days of recovery).

I am already feeling inspired and ready to tackle the next exhibition. I have started on another large drawing tonight that I feel it may underpin the whole show. A document of the whole Yarra River on a 3mt roll of paper...she is half unrolled in the studio now waiting for me. I feel a new discipline coming on...and the inspiration and motivation too. Excellent tonic for exhaustion too!

I have been laid up recovering the last two days since the exhibition, but I am feeling better now and ready to get back into the studio.

Here are some pictures, more to come later....

Detail : Beneath History Katie Roberts 2009

Warburton was wonderful, it really is a special place to me, and it seems a lot of other people too. So here are some photos of the river as it runs through the town, behind th shops and gallery.