I PROJECT YOU features Robi Walters’ new and previously unseen body of work exploring themes of identity, immigration and perception. Inspired by Robi’s dual Caribbean and English heritage, his work is aesthetically inspired by traditional African barber shop paintings. Robi combines a colourful and vibrant colour palette with a naive use of line to create this bold and sharp series of portraits of his close family and friends.
The exhibition focuses on exploring the psychology behind perception of the self and of ‘the other’. Robi uses this body of work to visually explore the projections we place upon ourselves alongside the multiple perceptions and restrictions placed upon us in todays society. I PROJECT YOU encourages conversation and engagement around ideas and notions of self, identity and immigration. Topics which seem particularly apt and prevalent in today’s current climate.
As well as addressing these themes, it’s interesting to note that each portrait in the series has been made out of found and recycled materials. Robi’s continued practice of transforming found materials into canvas for his artwork is a choice made through reflection on his own upbringing and background.
Growing up as a child in foster care, it is a vital part of Robi’s practice to recycle discarded materials and give them a new lease and direction of life. Creating desirable, covetable artworks out of traditionally unwanted materials. In stark contrast, the works themselves are framed in traditional thick, gilded style frames, which further emphasize this juxtaposition between the ‘high’ and ‘low’ cost of materials used.
Robi is also involved with a number of community, college and school based workshops which he counts as an important part of his artistic practice. Working with children and young adults across a variety of different backgrounds from Ofsted struggling public schools to private schools. Robi aims to encourage and inspire children regardless of their background and upbringing. He organizes a range of self-funded presentations and workshops to encourage and motivate young people to pursue their creative outlets and channel them into successful career paths. Robi also works alongside a number of galleries and institutions to invite children to exhibitions and tours they may otherwise not have access to. He has been working with the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair for the last few years to arrange private tours and drawing workshops with school children, the last workshop taking place most recently in October at Somerset House.
There will be a number of workshops with children as well as a separate workshop for teachers, at his upcoming exhibition, I PROJECT YOU. The notions of identity politics and perception
will be broken down, discussed and explored visually as well as verbally during these workshops.
Robi Walters was recently selected by The Daily Telegraph Amazing 15’ Arts and Culture section, as one of the “15 Top Creatives in the UK” highlighting Robi as one of the most exciting creative talents working in Britain today. Robi won the Arts and Culture category by public vote after being shortlisted in the ‘Creating the Amazing’ initiative.
Written by Lisa Baker