Introducing: New An Lanntair Arts Worker Robbie Thomson…

  • Published on: 2nd November 2020
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I’m Robbie, a multimedia artist originally from the Highlands but based in Glasgow for the last 15 years. I’m very excited to be starting as an arts worker at An Lanntair and looking forward to getting involved with the artistic community here, it’s great to have made the jump to Lewis.

The Arts Labs are brilliant places to have inspiring conversations and share ideas and techniques for the artworks that young people want to create. Hopefully I can bring my experience to the groups and help facilitate some adventurous projects over the coming year.

My background is in visual art but I often work on theatre and music projects, making solo works and also large-scale collaborations. The distinction between artforms and what it means to be an artist has changed dramatically from the time I would have been attending an Art Lab – I want to encourage experimentation and working between different mediums, taking artistic risks and trying out new processes.

I studied at Glasgow School of Art on the Environmental Art course (part of the sculpture department which deals with non-traditional art contexts and public art) and graduated in 2009. During my time at art school I began building kinetic sculptures and immersive installations which lead me to investigate electronics, audio-visual technologies and various fabrication techniques which have become central elements in my practice. Most of my actual skills learning has been very informal and I’ve been lucky to have friends (and the internet) that have helped to demystify what can seem like daunting areas to get started in – this approach is something I also hope to bring into the Arts Labs.

A couple of years after graduating I co-founded an arts venue, The Glue Factory, in the north of Glasgow with a group of friends. We programmed exhibitions, gigs, workshops and events and the building provided affordable studio spaces for artists. At this time I was also heavily involved in a collective called 85A – a core group of around 12 artists that created the ‘industrial horror’ feature film, Chernozem alongside expanded cinema environments and performances. 85A was banded together by DIY spirit and attitude, and with a non-heirarchical structure at its core.

Around the same time I began working with Glasgow based production house Cryptic, who continue to support some of my solo projects. Over the years my work with Cryptic has included live music made with a high voltage Tesla coil, a self-playing mechanical orchestra, a swimming pool full of kinetic sculptures and a 762m long robotic installation in Glasgow’s Clyde Tunnel. Some of these projects have gone on to tour quite widely including performances and residencies at festivals throughout the UK, Europe, Indonesia, Mexico, Korea, and Australia.

Outside of my solo practice I’ve worked as a collaborator with theatre companies including Untitled Projects, NVA, Common Wealth, Bassline Circus and National Theatre of Scotland. I enjoy the collective dynamic of working on a production and the creative conversations that go into building a piece of work together. Having a strong network of peers around to be inspired by and bounce ideas off has always been important, hopefully I can find this here on Lewis too!

Making the move out of the city is something that has been on the cards for a wee while and it’s exciting to have finally made that change – I’m looking forward to getting to know the Outer Hebrides and joining the team at An Lanntair.

Robbie joins An Lanntair’s Full Circle Arts Worker team and will be focussing on working with older children & young adults at the Art Labs in An Lanntair and out and about in other island venues too.

Click here to find out more about the Art Labs, and what other creative opportunities An Lanntair offers for youngsters, families, and teenagers to enjoy.