17 June, 2021
The artist who does not paint
ART comes in many shapes and forms to Woodford artist Carol Robinson, but painting is not among her activities.
It’s been nearly 12 months since Carol, a mixed media sculptural artist, opened Nigindi Gallery at her Woodford residence.
The COVID-19 pandemic seemed like the perfect time for Carol to set everything up, as she “didn’t leave the yard for three weeks”.
The story behind the gallery and the artwork, though, has many poignant components as well as struggles and heartache.
Carol underwent some extremely painful and turbulent times as she beat breast cancer twice, having been diagnosed in 2003 and 2009.
Having had to quit full-time work in 2003, Carol taught herself mosaics as she needed something to fill in the time.
A number of years later, Carol lost five family members – including her husband Ian – each of whom had various forms of cancer.
But she found her creativity which became her new purpose in life.
Carol was excited by the creative process, and wanted to become more creative with other materials.
The list of materials kept growing as Carol used wood, clay, leather, tiles and glass.
“I am drawn to the shapes, colour and textures of the many and varied materials I find,” she said.
“The possibilities are endless, I am happy to say, and I’m excited to see where it’s going to lead me.
“What some consider junk, I think of as treasure.”
Jewellery, tiles and a mirror were used to make guitar-like objects, for example.
Suncatchers were made with repurposed glass, while another item involved using a repurposed mannequin, jewellery and leather.
“I like to turn something not so nice into something beautiful and artistic,” Carol said.
Ian and Carol staged a pre-departure wake for Ian, titled “I’m Still Standing”, and then the wake following his passing was aptly called “Kick Cancer Up The Arts”.
Both occasions involved singing and entertainment, while “Kick Cancer Up The Arts” also involved raising money for the Cancer Council.
Carol said that her late husband made her promise to keep going with her art which she classified as “an eclectic style”.
Carol immersed herself in her artwork for about eight hours per day, and had another life-turning experience with one of her artworks: an old dressmakers dummy!
“I wanted to make a warrior out of her,” Carol said.
“I wanted to try to pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together.
“She is a warrior, and I felt I told my own story in the process.
“It was good therapy for me, and I felt like I became a stronger person.”
Called a “creative gypsy” and a “recycle queen” by various people, Carol ventured into the art world with a highly successful solo exhibition and has continued to exhibit her work in various places.
These places include Woodford Gallery, the Old Courthouse Gallery in Kilcoy, the Condensery in Toogoolawah, Glen Rock Gallery in Esk, Mon Komo Gallery in Redcliffe, Red Faery Hair in Maleny, and the Aspects Art Show in Goondiwindi.
Carol has also entered numerous art exhibitions and received recognition and awards for her creations.
As for coping with the loss of a loved one, Carol said: “The pain gets less intense as the years go by, although it’s still very painful.
“There are triggers, like when I recently got a new Medicare card and it had only my name on it.”
Philosophical about it all, Carol said: “It doesn’t matter what you do. When your time’s up, your time’s up.”
As for how her perspective on things changed amid the turmoil that cancer had caused her and those around her, Carol said: “You’ve got to work out what your priorities are, and what seemed to be important no longer was.
“The things you used to stress over were no longer worth stressing over.”