Freddie Robins (b.1965) lives and works in Essex and London. Currently Senior Tutor and Reader in Textiles at the Royal College of Art she works to commission and exhibits nationally and internationally.
Freddie Robins’s practice crosses definable categories of art, craft and design. She combines these elements elegantly, and with playful wit subverts meaning and making, fusing a melting-pot of approaches to ‘craft’.
She uses knitting to explore pertinent contemporary issues of the domestic, gender and the human condition, as well as the cultural preconceptions surrounding knitting as craft. Her work aims to disrupt the notion of the medium as passive and benign. Her pieces often incorporate both humour and fear. There is also a display of almost obsessive perfectionism in the quality of each piece’s hand-made finish.
Through the recent process of converting a 16th Century barn into her home and studio, her approach to making and materials has radically shifted. Her most recent body of works, Out on a Limb, has developed over the last year from a new expedient approach to making, utilising samples and surpluses, things donated, inherited and found.
The finished pieces evolve from the process as opposed to being designed and made. They explore themes of violence, fear, pain and loss. Titles, as ever, are integral to the meaning of her work.
Freddie Robins has work in private and public collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Nottingham Castle Museum, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum and KODE – kunstmuseene i Bergen. She is exhibited internationally, including most recently at COLLECT at the Saatchi Gallery, London Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2011, Korea, A new Hook. Re- thinking needlework, Museum Bellerive, Zurich, and Art & Fashion. Between Skin and Clothing, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany.
Andrée Cooke, Curator, 2013
Freddie Robins – Body, Nobody, Somebody, Anybody by Dawn Ades Read text
L’art féminine by Clare Doherty Read text
Joking Apart: the work of Freddie Robins by Linda Sandino Read text
Bad Mothers: Regulations, Representations and Resistance, Michelle Hughes Miller, Tamar Hager and Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich, Demeter Press, 2017
Crafting Textiles in the Digital Age, Nithikul Nimkulrat, Faith Kane and Kerry Walton, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016
What they didn’t teach you in art school, Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley, ILEX, 2016
The Feminist Uncanny in Theory and Art Practice, Alexandra M. Kokoli, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016
See Yourself X: Human Features Expanded, Madeline Schwartzman, Black Dog Publishing, London, 2016
The real thing: essays on making in the modern world, Tanya Harrod, Hyphen Press, London, 2015
Art & Fashion. Between Skin and Clothing (catalogue), edited by Markus Bruderlin and Annelie Lutgens, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg / Kerber Art, Germany, 2011
Extra/ordinary: craft and contemporary art, edited by Maria Elena Buszek, Duke University Press, USA 2011
In the Loop: Knitting Now, edited by Jessica Hemmings, Black Dog Publishing, London 2010
Contemporary Textiles: the fabric of fine art, edited by Nadine Kathe Monem, Black Dog Publishing, London 2008
In between, Minories Art Gallery, Colchester.
What do I need to do to make it OK? The National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire.
Liberties, The Exchange, Penzance, Cornwall.
Flat-out Lowlanders, Blackwater Polytechnic, Feering, Essex.
Big Steam Print, Museum of Art + Craft, Ditchling and Phoenix Gallery, Brighton.
What do I need to do to make it OK? Crafts Study Centre, Farnham, Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon, R-Space Gallery, Lisburn, Northern Ireland and Forty Hall, Enfield.
Some rocks and a hard place, The Sentinel Gallery, Wivenhoe, Essex.
OTHER exhibition, Courtyard Gallery, Royal College of Art, London.
COUNTER_FITTERS, Geddes Gallery, London.
Sluice 2015 with the Blackwater Polytechnic, Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London.
What do I need to do to make it OK? Pump House Gallery, London.
Liberties, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London.
Brocki, Blackwater Polytechnic, Feering, Essex.
Sex Shop, Transition Gallery, London.
Exchange Rates: The Bushwick Expo, Theodore:Art, Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Yan Tan Tethera, Cecil Sharp House, Camden, London and touring UK.
Sex Shop, Folkestone Fringe 2014, Kent.
The Essex Secession, Blackwater Polytechnic, Feering, Essex.
Freddie Robins, Artifex gallery, Vilnius Academy of Arts, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Sluice 2013 with The Essex Embassy from the Blackwater Polytechnic, London.
Happy Days, Blackwater Polytechnic, Feering, Essex.
COLLECT, Project Space, Saatchi Gallery, London.
A celebration of works by Martha Fiennes, Freddie Robins and Alice Cicolini, Spring Studios, London.
Transformations, Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
40:40 – forty objects for forty years, Crafts Council online exhibition
Bite-Size: miniature textiles from Japan and the UK, Daiwa Anglo Japanese Foundation, London, Gallery Gallery, Kyoto, and Nagoya University of the Arts and Sciences, Japan.
Contemporary Craft, HERE & NOW, Cheongju International Craft Biennale 2011, Korea.
Fifties, Fashion and Emerging Feminism [a contemporary response], Collyer Bristow Gallery, London.
7th International Triennial of Contemporary Textile Arts, Tournai, Belgium.
Art & Fashion. Between Skin and Clothing, Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany.
A new Hook. Re-thinking needlework, Museum Bellerive, Zurich, Switzerland.
The Art of Fashion: Installing Illusions, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
Extraordinary Measures, Belsay Hall, Northumberland.
The Endless Garment, RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, Australia.
Draw: Turning Thoughts into Line, Royal College of Art, London.
Dritto Rovescio, La Triennale di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Dress Codes: Clothing as Metaphor, Katonah Museum of Art, New York, USA.
Making and Mending, Smiths Row, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Concerning Matter, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London.
Think Tank takes on Skill, Contemporary Applied Arts, London and touring Europe.
The Peckham Experiment, Space Station sixty-five at Camberwell Space, Camberwell Art College, London.
Cloth & Culture Now, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester.
Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting, Museum of Arts & Design, New York and touring USA.
Crimes of Omission, Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, USA.
Body, Nobody, Somebody, KODE – kunstmuseene i Bergen, Norway (solo).
The Perfect, Contemporary Applied Arts, London (solo).
Wintry, Lounge Gallery (Monika Bobinska), London.
Johnny Foreigner, Kunstforum Rheinhessen, Essenheimer Kunstverein, Germany.
Ceremony, Pump House Gallery, Battersea Park, London.
Reveal, Castle Museum, Nottingham.
Knit 2 Together: Concepts in Knitting, Crafts Council Gallery, London and touring.
Flexible 4: Identities, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and touring internationally.
Cosy, Queen’s Hall, Hexham (solo).
Them Indoors, Geffrye Museum, London.
Cosy, The Pier Arts Centre, Orkney, Scotland (solo).
Cosy, firstsite at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester (solo).
Metamorphing, Wellcome Trust Gallery, The Science Museum, London.
Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 2002: Textiles, Crafts Council Gallery, London and touring UK.
Shelf Life, Gasworks Gallery, London touring to Spike Island, Bristol and Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool.
Free Radicals, Konstfack, Stockholm, Sweden and touring.
Adorn, Equip, The City Gallery, Leicester and touring UK.
Out of the Closet, Sotheby’s, London.
Freddie Robins, firstsite at the Minories Art Gallery, Colchester (solo).
Selected Private and Public Collections
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, Crafts Council, London, Castle Museum, Nottingham, Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, KODE – kunstmuseene i Bergen, Norway, Spring Studios, London, Szombathely Art Gallery, Hungary.
Commissioned by inIVA (Institute of International Visual Art) to create a multimedia work for X-Space, their experimental web space http://www.iniva.org/xspaceprojects/robins
Public Art Commission, Hands of Hoxton, by the London Borough of Hackney for Shoreditch Library, London.
Galerie sphn, Berlin, Germany.
Britto International Artists’ Workshop, Tepantor Film City, Bangladesh – a Triangle Arts Workshop.
Awards and Scholarships
Grants for the Arts award, Arts Council England/National Lottery.
Shortlisted for Women to Watch 2012, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, USA.
AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), Small Grant for the Creative and Performing Arts.
Research Development Award, Royal College of Art.
Travel Award to Bangladesh, British Council.
Visual Arts Research Award, Goldsmiths College.
Shortlisted for the Jerwood Applied Arts Prize 2002: Textiles.
London Arts Award.
1987-1989 MA (RCA), Royal College of Art, London.
1984-1987 BA (Hons) 1st Class, Middlesex Polytechnic, London.
- Liberties (review of Liberties at The Exchange, Penzance), Martin Holman, Art Monthly, Dec 16 – Jan 17 p.21-23 PDF of review
- Making it OK (review of What do I need to do to make it OK?), Ian Wilson, Surface Design Journal, Fall 2016 – PDF of review
- Textiles of recovery and repair (review of What do I need to do to make it OK?), Jessica Hemmings, Crafts, no. 257 November/December 2015 p.64-65 – PDF of review
- Fifty Moments that Changed Craft – Events – The American Craft Museum changes its name (2002), Freddie Robins, Crafts, no. 250 September/October 2014 p.53 – PDF of article
- Protest and production in song (review of Yan Tan Tethera), Liz Hoggard, Crafts, no. 250 September/October 2014 p.88-89 – PDF of review
- Looping the Loop, Freddie Robins, Selvedge, issue 60, 2014
- Out on a Limb, Charlotte Abrahams, Crafts, no. 242 May/June 2013 – PDF of article
- Not your average barn, Vinny Lee, The Times Magazine, 4 May 2013 – Page 1 of article – JPG | Page 2 of article – JPG
- The Art of Craft, Maya Dudok de Wit, Flamingo Magazine, The Future Craft Issue, 2013 – PDF of article
- Transformations (review), Catherine Dormor, Textile, volume 11, number 1, March 2013, pp. 94-101(8), Bloomsbury Journals, ISSN 1475-9756 – PDF of review
- Collage Showcase: Freddie Robins, Collage Magazine, issue 1, Oct 11 2012 http://www.magazinecollage.com
- Wool, Clay, Felt and Steel, Rosanna Durham, Oh Comely, issue three, Nov / Dec 2010
- The Perfect, Freddie Robins, THERE Journal of Design, vol. 6, College of Design, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, November 2010 — PDF of article
Further information and images of work can be found on the following sites:
Royal College of Art – Staff Profile
Blackwater Polytechnic – established by Freddie Robins and Ben Coode-Adams as an informal educational establishment that is now promoting the creativity that is found in Essex through The Essex Embassy
Grand Designs – Freddie Robins and Ben Coode-Adams convert a 16th century timber framed barn into a home, studio and workshops in Essex
Victoria & Albert Museum – interview and pattern for Conrad from Odd Gloves
TextileArtist.org – Disrupting preconceptions of craft interview
Make Believe – online journal of innovative writing about craft, design and creativity. Make Believe supports writing that is beautiful, radical and wise. Since 2013, it has considered, ranted, struggled, mused on, and thought about the process of making.
WAL App – App developed for the Women’s Art Library (located in the Special Collections and Archives of Goldsmiths Library, University of London).
Download App here