Malcolm Robertson has been a sculptor for 35 years, but the sight of his “Wave 2 Me” sculpture flying through the air on a crane Jan. 11 during instillation in the courtyard of the Longboat Key Center for the Arts, a Division of Ringling College of Art and Design, was still a thrilling one.
“The sheer joy of seeing that flying through the sky was glorious,” Robertson said.
Robertson, a Scotland native, chose to focus on sculpture because he liked the physicality of it — its three dimensions and conceptual meaning. He says the physicality of sculpture stimulates the intellect and emotions, comparing the experience to standing under a Redwood tree. As a public artist whose work is usually shown in open spaces, Robertson has always used the context of where a piece will be shown to guide him while he created it.
His “Making Waves” show at the Arts Center, which runs from Jan. 15 through Feb. 11, is his first gallery exhibit. It features 64 “Making Waves” and “Pathways” sculptures, most of which are smaller than his typical sculptures, but could be reproduced on a larger scale. “Wave 2 Me” and “Waveheart,” a heart-shaped sculpture that will serve as the entrance to the exhibit in the Joan M. Durante Gallery, are the two sculptures produced to scale.
“It’s a new journey for me producing work for a gallery work that doesn’t have an end destination,” Robertson said.
Robertson began working on his “Making Waves” and “Pathways” sculptures in 2003 after he came to the area to create the “Open Book Gateway” sculpture for the Fruitville Public Library. During his residency at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, on Manasota Key, he became inspired by his surroundings and began to create the steel-and-stone “Making Waves” and “Pathways” sculptures. Wave sculptures are inspired by the constantly changing wave formations in the Gulf. Robertson thinks of waves as the transition between land and sea, one that invites the viewer to cross over to discover new horizons.
“The wave embraces you,” Robertson said. “And it’s a long embrace.”
“Pathways” sculptures symbolize relationships and were inspired by the movements of and patterns fish form while they swim.
“I was thinking of relationships,” Robertson said. “The sculptures correspond to the pathways and journeys that we make through life.”
Robertson begins the process of creating sculptures with a sketch. He then uses computer programs to work out how shapes will fit together.
Robertson’s public artwork can now be found on three continents. To local residents, the “Wave 2 Me” sculpture may look familiar — it was displayed two years ago on the Sarasota bayfront in the “Season of Sculpture” exhibition.
When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 20
Where: Longboat Key Center for the Arts, a Division of Ringling College of Art and Design, 6860 Longboat Drive S.
Cost: $15; open to the public.
Contact Robin Hartill at email@example.com.