PARKRIDGE — East County artist Malcom Robertson loves to see artwork come alive in ways others may never consider.
He could paint or draw to capture the eye. But instead, he captures the imagination with works that people can literally wrap their arms around — or at least lean against.
“I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and making things,” the Scotsman said. “When I was in art school, I selected to study sculpture because it was physical. I thought there was a lot more opportunity to create something that people could interact with.”
Some pieces depict people or stories. Others simply convey ideas, such as time and space. But Robertson’s work has been installed all over the world.
Locally, he’s responsible for the design and construction of the more than 18-foot “Open Book Gateway” sculpture outside the Fruitville Library as well as the giant “Shell” sculpture on Manasota Key.
His newest creation, however, meets the public on a much smaller scale, but with even larger implications.
The piece is the trophy for the newly established Greenfield Prize, an annual award that gives its recipients a $30,000 commission for a new work of art. The trophy was unveiled during an awards ceremony at Michael’s on East April 22.
Two artists — playwright Craig Lucas and composer Eve Beglarian — received the award through a partnership between the Philadelphia-based Greenfield Foundation and the Hermitage, which provides living and studio space for artists.
As the first guest artist to ever stay at the Hermitage, Masterson said the trophy is meant to capture the prestige of the award and what makes the retreat special.
“For me, it was about the beach,” Masterson said. “The waves keep rolling. The horizon almost looks infinite. The ideas keep rolling in like the waves keep rolling in.”
A native of Scotland, Robertson never expected to develop strong ties to Sarasota when he was awarded a contract for the sculpture at the Fruitville library. He’d simply answered a “call to artists” ad, won the contract and begun to figure out the logistics of his work.
But a board member from the Hermitage Artist Retreat offered the beachfront property as a place for him to stay while he constructed the piece. For three months, Robertson lived there, soaking in the sights and sounds of the ocean.
“Being at the Hermitage, I got invited to a lot of events,” Robertson said. “(It) was really a springboard for us to connect with this area.”
In fact, Robertson and his wife, Kathryn, loved Sarasota so much that they later purchased a condominium in Parkridge so they could split their time between Scotland and Sarasota.
Robertson said he was delighted to still be associated with the Hermitage and to be asked to design the award for the prize.
To view Robertson’s work, visit his Web site at www.malcolmrobertson.com.
Contact Pam McTeer at [email protected].
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