Andrew Robinson

Website of Andrew Robinson


Artist’s Statement

Andrew Robinson is a photographer concerned with space, place and the philosophies of experiencing our surroundings.

Psychological therapies and associated philosophies of experience have helped Robinson to understand his own relationship to the physical world and to his personal relationships. Through the unique characteristics of photographic image creation, he aims to show that it is desirable and enriching to question and change these relationships to better understand the world, and the self.

First Rays of The Sun

Black Shuck

It was a bone shining clean and bright under the dancing waters of the stream. The bone, I knew, was something magical, something othering, something disturbing and bad. I had to have it. I put my hand under the water and took it, fear of the touch and feel of the dead thing overcome by desire. I must have been six or seven years old, perhaps younger. That day we had gone to play in the woods and streams around the back of the house. Exciting contorted dead trunks traversed the chasm-ravine of the stream giving us bridges into the forbidden zones of the forest. All was huge and scary. It was a hot summer day – a classic English summer in the countryside. An idyll, a dream.

Hot oaks and dusty cornfields, crunching splitting dried mud and insects everywhere. The tree canopy gave shelter from the sunlight; how hot those tops of trees must get, and how generously they serve the forest floor with their cooling filters. The thunderbugs found their way into everything; an Eastern English midge, these tiny flies can still be found lodged and sealed within picture frames in my parent’s retirement home forty years and a different county away. The little black marks of their bodies a sarcophagus of summer, wedged between the glass and a watercolour view of Pickering or the Lake District.

Searching the maps, I cannot find this wood. A wood in the imagination of a child.

The bone came home with me to a new resting place on a neat little pile of tissues under my bed. A bone on a bed under a bed. It had some teeth.

The bone must have been something like a badger, a deer perhaps, but I was convinced that it was from an animal with much more power than that; a mystic and wicked animal that lived in the imagination of Suffolk and Norfolk. An animal that killed people with nothing but threat and worry as weapons: Black Shuck, ‘Demon Dog of East Anglia’. The jawbone of that very animal was under my bed. I was in danger.

I do not know where I had heard of this dog, but there it was lodged in my mind. A primal village story, a folklorish warning of the Devil roaming the lanes of Suffolk and Norfolk.

This bone then, that I slept over. My desire for the bone mixed up with fear. I could hardly sleep. Somehow, I eventually summoned up the courage to get rid of the bone. I laid it carefully on top of the rubbish in the dustbin. A burial ritual. Once the dustmen took it away, it was gone. Power removed. The darkness had been banished by the searing heat of the summer. My world, a small boy in a village in Suffolk. My private panic around the bone and what it meant; badness and wickedness and original sin. Sin that was my private sin, owned by me.


In his famous and famously difficult essay The Origin of the Work of Art Martin Heidegger states that “The origin of the work of art is art”. He uses the example of an ancient (generic) temple in his essay to explain some of his ideas. This temple, as a chapel, is present throughout Wales, from small villages to grand cities. Merthyr Tydfil is full of these temples. These buildings become structures of meaning for the towns and cities and for those who dwell in them. They tell a story of the town but also show the relationships between town and people and work, reflected in these structures. Without the chapel-temple there could not have been the richness of experience that surrounds us in the town.

Heidegger explains the concept of the artwork by using the temple to situate us in place and space. The artwork “opens up”, the work “emerging and rising in itself’, “setting up” and “bringing forward”. All these verbs are space-determinant. The relationships between his concepts are almost physical, mirroring our experience of being in the world through a set of interconnections.

The temple, arisen from the earth, set forth in the world, but concealing the God inside then becomes the God itself. The hidden God inside the temple is only made real by its concealment. “Truth happens in the temple’s standing where it is. This does not mean that something is correctly represented and rendered here but what is as a whole brought into unconcealedness and held therein.”.

Not once in my travels in Wales did I enter a chapel. I know what a nonconformist chapel looks like, smells like, feels like, I experienced many growing up. God was in there, hidden.

“It is the temple-work that first fits together and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape of destiny for human being.”
This is what it is to be alive, to be in the fullness of the breadth and depth of existence. The chapel in Wales draws all this together through the building – birth, baptism, education, work, marriage, death.

St Tydfil, martyr, gives name to the town and a church above her resting place. This spiritual centre of the town radiates outwards through the chapels.

Therapist’s Rooms

In 1938 Sigmund Freud came to Great Britain, exiled from Nazi Austria. Amongst the possessions rescued from Vienna was his famous couch, which still resides in his home in Hampstead.

In the modern therapist’s room the décor is bland but the room is a place of trauma and heightened emotion.

The chairs are a site of trauma, of a fleeting intense ideal relationship that is secure and completely private. The relationship only exists in the space of that room. At the end of each session a parting occurs that presages the end of the relationship for ever – the end of the therapy. The chairs then stand empty.

Sometimes that relationship is strained, awkward, confused. Sometimes it is concurrent. Sometimes only the client struggles. The only thing that matters in the room is the relationship between the people who use the chairs, in a room that has no other function.

The ‘Therapist Hour’ is 50 minutes.

All images in this series:
Paper size  406.4 x508mm, 16 x 20 inches
Harman Gloss Barayta
Image has 1.5 inch border top and sides

Therapy and rooms: links

Gilbert and George, Dusty Corners
Sarah Jones, Couch
Shellburne Thurber, Analytic



The Greek temple remains an ideal; a perfect architectural reference point to an age of philosophical and physical beauty. The experience of the temple is almost lost as history and interpretation have conspired to smother this icon.

Opposite my 1920’s suburban house lies a small church, nestled between two rows of houses. The church is essentially a shed, one storey high with a simple pitched roof. The façade of this building is a classical Doric one, with four columns and a pediment. The Church is Catholic, being of the Order of St Pius X, an order that seeks to promulgate a more traditional Catholicism that existed before the second Vatican council. The leadership of this group is excommunicated from the Church of Rome.

In this suburb then, we come across this tiny temple, a rebel sanctuary within an area that is indifferent, ordinary.

The temple in the modern urban environment is often a building that is overlooked, lost, waiting for us to come across it. As we do so, we are given the possibility of a connection with the divine.

Temple links:

Francesca Woodman, Temple
Liz Hingley, Under Gods



Merthyr MotoCross

There was a distinct, strange, sharp metallic odour clinging to the hillside, despite the stiff breeze barrelling up the valley. Merthyr Common has been in the news lately for the extensive and unfortunate fly tipping. The tarmacadam tracks (hardly roads) leading over the treeless landscape are lined by mounds and mounds of rubbish, being all manner of dumped household goods, quasi industrial waste and household waste. Cat litter (unused), dolls, broken building materials, lavatories, wood, plaster board. Toys, sofas, fridges, clothing and other rags. A verdant hedge of plastic, cloth, metal and ceramic that is forever in bloom.

The boys are on motocross bikes, making a lot of noise having fun. Don’t take our photos’ will ya! No, no I reassure them, its ART. Landscape and ART. We discuss the town. I tell them how much it makes me angry, successive political lords and master ‘in London’ who care not one tiny jot for places like Merthyr. They agree. They are less enamoured of the place than I am. I try and persuade them that the history is amazing, incredible, something to be proud of. They complain that the council and the police don’t want them riding over the landscape up here. All around the open cast mining operations are taking place chewing up the landscape and moving mountains from one place to another. The handsome one says “To be honest with ya I can’t remember what was there before.”

They leave. Revving throttles. The one on the road bike with the L plate trailing behind. I get back into the mini, which is air conditioned, eat a bread roll, no filling, and then start the ignition. The interior of the car ends the association with the smell and the breeze and the boys on the bikes. I head off, back to Cardiff, down into the valley.