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Robert Holyhead

Senior Lecturer
Faculty of Arts, Humanities, Education and Social Sciences
Cambridge School of Art
Areas of Expertise:
Fine art

Robert Holyhead (b. 1974 Trowbridge, UK) lives and works in London. He studied at Manchester School of Art 1993-1996 and completed an MA in Painting at Chelsea School of Art in 1997.

[email protected]

Find out more about Rob's work in 'Portrait of a working artist'


Robert was awarded the five year ACME Fire Station live/work residency in 2005; a programme designed for emerging artists at a critical stage of their career. In 2007 he was invited to spend three months in Switzerland as part of the artists' residency programme at Fundaziun NAIRS.

In early 2008 he published his first book documenting works since 2006, which included a new essay entitled 'The Beginning Answer...' by the artist and writer David Ryan.

Robert makes abstract paintings (oil on canvas) in relation to small watercolour studies that initiate possibilities or act as starting points for new works. His work attempts to gather and to clear; gather in the sense of bringing things into view, then clearing through a process of reducing and refining the surface.

This method allows each painting to suggest an autonomous centre, ultimately resisting the tradition of compositional outcome (each new work being informed by the previous) and hopefully allowing the activity and language to remain precarious and the surface convincing.

Recent exhibitions include Contested Ground, 176, London; Robert Holyhead, Jos van Merendonk, Gunter Tuzina, Galerie Van Kranendonk (Netherlands); Robert Holyhead: Components of a practice, Gibraltar Walk Studio (London); Painting Unlimited, APT, London, Curraint D'ajer, Funaziun NAIRS, Scuol (Switzerland) and Robert Holyhead: New Paintings, Kontainer, Los Angeles (USA ).

Robert also contributes to the academic staff at Manchester School of Art on BA (Hons) Fine Art (Painting).