ARTIST INTERVIEW: Hamish Robertson
Hamish Robertson is a Los Angeles-based photographer, sculptor, and collage artist, originally from Yorkshire. He has an eye for unusual and stunning perspectives of the natural world, as well as a sharp curatorial instinct that comes out in his new line Archival Editions. We spoke with Hamish about his creative journey and recent endeavors.
How is your work inspired by or influenced by nature and your surroundings?
I’ve always needed a healthy amount of nature in my surroundings to produce work I connect to. I grew up in the countryside of northern England and had a very outdoor upbringing, yet I always craved the city. From age 15 I would work summers in London but would then yearn for the country and head there at weekends. Later, when I moved to Edinburgh for art college, I was lucky to live in a vibrant city but one with dramatic natural accents—not least an extinct volcano in the center of the city. Following that I spent a decade in New York City which was the perfect preparation for being happily overwhelmed by the nature in Los Angeles. I love how the city here is at odds with the desert it’s built upon, especially that it seems to be losing the battle.
My most recent photography series, Magna Lake and Kelvin Oaks, are very different takes on detail study of natural California textures—from Joshua Tree up to the Redwood Forest—from the land to the moon.
What is a new idea you have been working with recently?
I’ve recently soft-launched a new imprint, Archival Editions to allow me to offer fine art exhibition art prints of not only my own work but those of contemporaries whose work I admire. The first wave of prints include production stills by director Miles Jay, photographs from a series of women and architecture by Paris-based photographer Claire Cottrell, a series of “rock monsters” by author Andi Teran, a still life by Kayten Schmidt, and palette details by Canadian painter Erika Altosaar. Future collections will involve collaborations with musicians, artists, and illustrators, as well as limited apparel collection. (Hopefully in time for the Holiday EPCF!)
Do you have any objects you like to keep around you as inspiration? What are they?
My father was (among other things) an antique dealer and he gave me a small carving of a dodo, understood to be at around 500 years old. Aside from it being a beautiful object that feels really good in my hands it’s always reminded me that the simplicity of the natural world around us should be captured and appreciated to enjoy beyond the living moment.
Did you have any mentors or important creative influences?
So many. I’ve always been especially gratefully to Georgina Terry, my high school art teacher. I was stubborn then and refused to draw at school yet, three days from final assessment, I was told I had to present a portfolio of drawing to count towards my final grade. Understanding that I didn’t want to sit and sketch with a pencil, Georgina told me to go down to the school’s quad and gather some small branches. She gave me thirty pieces of paper, a pot of ink, and a cow’s skull and told me to draw the skull thirty times using only the twig and ink. While it allowed me to meet the submission requirement, it taught me lessons in looking and observing I still think about daily some 20 years later.
In a similar vein, I grew up a few towns from David Hockney and would regularly visit his personal gallery at Saltaire. I distinctly remember my parents taking me to see an exhibition of new work that he’d faxed to Yorkshire from Los Angeles. As beautiful as the works were, it taught me so much about the presentation of work and how the idea and the execution should always be considered in harmony. It probably wasn’t a coincidence I’d follow in his footsteps in moving to Los Angeles.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
Griffith Park, to get lost in my observations. Kinokuniya, downtown, to get lost in my imagination.
Why is it important to you to show and share your work to a larger community?
Because that’s the community I want to enjoy my work, I take great care to produce high quality prints of my photography and photo collages and do so in the hope that they find homes where they’re enjoyed by their new owners.