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.
Freddie Robins has work in private and public collections including the Government Art Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, Crafts Council, Nottingham Castle Museum, Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum and KODE – kunstmuseene i Bergen. She is exhibited internationally, including most recently Kette und Schuss, CC binder, Puurs, Belgium, New Doggerland, Thames-Side Studios Gallery, London, Sleepy Heads, Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, London and Material: Textile, Messums Wiltshire.
Andrée Cooke, Curator
Freddie Robins on knitting, Material Matters with Grant Gibson, 12 May 2020 Listen to podcast
Stour Surrounding – Artists and the Valley, a documentary film that takes a look at artists both past and present who have responded to the landscape of the Stour Valley, 29 October 2020 Watch film on youtube
Freddie Robins – Body, Nobody, Somebody, Anybody by Dawn Ades Read text
L’art féminine by Claire Doherty Read text
Joking Apart: the work of Freddie Robins by Linda Sandino Read text
See Yourself X: Human Features Expanded, Madeline Schwartzman, Black Dog Press, London, 2018 ISBN 978-1-910433-22-5
Craftfulness – Mend yourself by making things, Rosemary Davidson & Arzu Tahsin, Quercus, London, 2018 ISBN 978-1-78747-266-2
Unravelled – Contemporary Knit Art, Charlotte Vannier, Thames & Hudson, London, 2018 ISBN 978-0-50023-988-9
Crafting Textiles in the Digital Age, Nithikul Nimkulrat, Faith Kane and Kerry Walton, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016 ISBN 978-1-47428-620-6
The Feminist Uncanny in Theory and Art Practice, Alexandra M. Kokoli, Bloomsbury Academic, 2016 ISBN 978-1-47250-558-3
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 ISBN 978-0-8223-4762-0
Contemporary Textiles: the fabric of fine art, edited by Nadine Kathe Monem, Black Dog Publishing, London 2008 ISBN 978-1-906155-29-2
Creature Comforts, JGM Gallery, Battersea, London.
SCP with Carl Clerkin’s Beasley Brothers Repair Shop, London.
Material Matters with Carl Clerkin’s Beasley Brothers Repair Shop, Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, London.
Eternally Yours – Care, Repair and Healing with Carl Clerkin’s Beasley Brothers Repair Shop, Somerset House, London.
Amazing Women, The Show Windows: Reflections project, City Arcade, Coventry.
We are Commoners: Creative Acts of Commoning, a Craftspace national touring exhibition, The Civic, Barnsley, Hub: a national centre for craft and design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, The Gallery, Hull Central Library and We are the Minories, Colchester.
Maker’s Eye: Stories of Craft, Crafts Council Gallery, London.
Art at Home through Kath & Company, Twickenham, London.
Juxtapose Art Fair with M100 Exhibition Centre for Contemporary Art (Odense), Aarhus, Denmark.
We are Commoners: Creative Acts of Commoning, a Craftspace national touring exhibition, Oriel Davies Gallery, Newtown, Wales, Leicester Gallery, De Montfort University, Leicester and Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Bovey Tracey, Devon.
Kette und Schuss, CC binder, Puurs, Belgium.
New Doggerland, Thames-Side Studios Gallery, London.
Between Us: Biennial Conversations and Exchanges, Ex Marks the Spot, Great Yarmouth & University of Suffolk, Ipswich.
Resistant Materials III, Blackwater Polytechnic, Feering, Essex.
Sleepy Heads, Blyth Gallery, Imperial College, London.
Material: Textile, Messums Wiltshire.
Resistant Materials II at Sluice Exchange Berlin, Das Kühlhaus Berlin, Germany.
Resistant Materials, M100 Exhibition Centre for Contemporary Art, Odense, Denmark.
StrangeLands, Collyer Bristow Gallery, London.
Uncertain things, The Sentinel Gallery, Wivenhoe, Essex.
A Table of Elements, Greystone Industries, Wickham Market, Suffolk.
Between things, Minories Art Gallery, Colchester.
Showtime, COLLECT, Saatchi Gallery, London.
What do I need to do to make it OK? The National Centre for Craft & Design, Sleaford, Lincolnshire and Rugby Art Gallery & Museum.
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.
Sluice 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).
Work in Collections
Government Art Collection, London, 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.
Private collections in UK, Turkey, USA and Australia.
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
a-n Artists Bursaries 2021: Time Space Money.
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.
Selected published writing (by the artist)
- Stab It, Strangle It: Media Representations of Knitters, and Subversions of the Stereotype to Reflect Inclusion and Diversity, Textile: Cloth & Culture, 2022 Read text
- Knitted Homes of Crime, Maternal Art Magazine: Issue 1 Stay at home, 2020
- Resistant Materials, Ben Coode-Adams & Freddie Robins (Blackwater Polytechnic), Sluice, Inter/nationalism, Autumn/Winter 2018 ISSN 2398-8398 PDF of article
- Do Not Touch , Surface Design Journal, Fall 2018, Volume 42 Number 3 ISSN 0197-4483 Read text
- Unpicking the Narrative: Difficult Women, Difficult Work Freddie Robins, Lucy Day & Eliza Gluckman, Textile: Cloth & Culture, 2018, Volume 16 Issue 3 ISSN 1475-9756 Read text
- Bad Mother in Bad Mothers: Regulations, Representations, and Resistance, edited by Michelle Hughes Miller, Tamar Hager and Rebecca Jaremko Bromwich, Demeter Press, Ontario, Canada, 2017 ISBN 978-1-77258-103-4
- Bad Mother / Mad Mother, MAMSIE – Studies in the Maternal, 8 (2), Birkbeck, University of London, (online journal), 2016 Read text
- The Perfectly Imperfect, Making Futures 4, Plymouth College of Art, (online journal), 2016 Read text
- Interviews and philosophies – Freddie Robins in What they didn’t teach you in art school, Rosalind Davis and Annabel Tilley, ILEX, London, 2016 ISBN 978-1-78157-410-2
- The Perfect, THERE Journal of Design, vol. 6, College of Design, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, November 2010 — PDF of article
- The Perfect in In the Loop: Knitting Now, edited by Jessica Hemmings, Black Dog Publishing, London 2010 ISBN 978-1-906155-96-4
- Interview – Freddie Robins, Maria Rosaria Roseo, ArteMorbida, Aug 19, 2022 Read interview
- Vitamin K, June Hill, Embroidery, volume 71 May-June 2020 p.18-23
- Object Lesson, Crafts, no. 283 March/April 2020 p.36-41 – PDF of article
- In conversation with Freddie Robins, Charlotte Cameron, Knitting Industry Creative, October 1, 2018 https://www.knittingindustry.com
- Cent digital magazine, Play SS18, By a Thread
- Liberties (review of Liberties at The Exchange, Penzance), Martin Holman, Art Monthly, Dec 16 – Jan 17 p.21-23
- Making it OK (review of What do I need to do to make it OK?), Ian Wilson, Surface Design Journal, Fall 2016
- 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
- Protest and production in song (review of Yan Tan Tethera), Liz Hoggard, Crafts, no. 250 September/October 2014 p.88-89 – PDF of review
- 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
- Wool, Clay, Felt and Steel, Rosanna Durham, Oh Comely, issue three, Nov / Dec 2010
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 series
Textile Curator – interview
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 – featuring women artists and artworks from the Women’s Art Library located in the Special Collections and Archives of Goldsmiths Library, University of London.
Download WAL App here