Robin Spark: A Life in Painting: For sale Saturday 17th December onwards
We are delighted to offer around 100 works by Edinburgh artist Robin Spark (1938-2016) for sale over the next three auctions: Saturday 17th December, Saturday 7th January 2017 and Saturday 14th January 2017.
Spark was born in Southern Rhodesia, then a British colony, to Sydney and renowned author Muriel Spark. Towards the end of the Second World War Muriel managed to travel back to the United Kingdom by means of a troop ship, but was unable to secure passage for the four-year-old Robin, who was left in a convent school. In September 1945 Muriel brought Robin to Edinburgh. She then went to London to seek work, leaving Robin to be raised by Muriel’s parents, the Cambergs, in their Edinburgh home.
Muriel Spark, formerly of the Jewish faith, converted to Catholicism in 1952, but Robin chose to remain loyal to Judaism, much to his grandparents’ satisfaction. Muriel did not attend his Bar Mitzvah in 1952, but sent 50 pounds for the party afterwards.
Robin was educated at the private Daniel Stewart’s School in Edinburgh. He left at the age of 16 to pursue a career in the retail jewellery trade. He served his National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps from 1957 to 1959, after which he studied at night school in order to obtain his Highers. In the late 1960s he entered the Civil Service, in which he worked for 20 years in a variety of departments, ending up as Chief Clerk to the Scottish Law Commission
Despite having never studied art, Spark had always had an interest in the subject and became convinced that he had to pursue a career in it. Udi Merioz, an international artist who was a friend of Robin’s, encouraged him to try to get into a college, so he started to attend evening classes at the art college and prepared a portfolio for entrance as a full-time student. He was offered a place at the Edinburgh College of Art and started the four-year course in 1983, graduating with a BA (Hons). He was then awarded an Andrew Grant Scholarship and became an art tutor while continuing his own painting.
There is a strong Jewish feeling in some of his pictures because of his education and family background, and he always signed his paintings in Hebrew. His work also shows the influence of the Scottish colourists, and an interest in the underlying bone and muscle structure of the human body. In his later years his work moved into pure abstract symbolism. Spark used pastels on paper and impasto.
He exhibited widely with solo exhibitions including:
- Stenberg Centre for Judaism, London & University Staff Club, Edinburgh.
- Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh.
- Jewish Festival Exhibition, Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation Community Centre.
- Leith A1 Gallery and Marchmont Studios, Edinburgh.
- Pen & Ink Miniatures, Kelly’s Gallery, Edinburgh.
- Peter Potter Gallery, Haddington & Rachel’s, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh International Festival.
- The Brass Rail & La Grande Cafetier, Edinburgh.
- Dunedin Gallery, Edinburgh.
- Creelers, Edinburgh.
- Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.
- Leo Beck center London.
- W.A.S.P.S., Studios Patriothall Gallery.
His work is currently found in permanent collections within:
- Heriot-Watt University
- Sternberg Centre
- Edinburgh College of Art
- Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation
- National Portrait Gallery of Scotland
- Blue & White Gallery
- St. Mary’s Music School in Edinburgh.