Imagine a painting that cannot be stopped from weeping

Wanjiku has been crying for over 10 years! She has been weeping tears for all this time.

Wanjiku is a painting made by Geraldine Robarts in early 2007. It represents Wanjiku, the typical African woman. Here, she is in her hut at dawn making porridge for her family, her back bent from constant hard work and effort. Behind her is her daughter stretching as she wakes up. On the right-hand side is her sister holding the latest baby. It is dark, smokey and gloomy. But these women are spiritual earth mothers.

In 2008 the painting, which is oil on wood, started to weep. Dark brown drips ran down the front as if Wanjiku cries for all the women who spend a lifetime working hard and who go unnoticed by society and the world.

Geraldine varnished the painting. It never stopped crying, and the crying increased more sometime during 2011 and drips fell onto the floor.

By 2014 Wanjiku was put to hang outside so the drips fell on the ground. Geraldine wondered – “what do I do now to stop this?” So the painting was given a thick coat of acrylic resin in 2016 to try to contain the problem. It was stable for about 18 months but then the tears ate through the supposedly solid resin and again the painting is weeping.

The tears just have to fall. One would imagine that as brown paint drips the image will fade, but that has not happened.

Geraldine has accepted that the tears of Wanjiku cannot be stopped. At night she prays for the improvement of the hardship suffered by so many women of Kenya. Perhaps the tears of Wanjiku  will never stop until the plight of women can be made better.

“O Ye Rich Ones on Earth!

The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”


I think I am driven to paint

I think I am driven to paint. When you do something often it becomes your identity. You don’t ask why- you just do it, like walking for example. Once you do it you find things to do or places to go.

I think of my paintings as one surface after another; each calls for a new decision consistent with what is actually there. Deeply engrossed within my own mind; trusting your own instincts is key. You trust that what you’re doing is not just colours and shapes but the construction of something that transcends them. Painting, like music, is its own language, so you trust it and let go.

I let my paintings express the positive side of me. With canvas, paper, and colours, resin and sparkle I feel turned into the physical world’s power and beauty. I love nature intensely and feel the beauty of living in Kenya each day.

A rose, a tree, a stream of water, can give me a sense of belonging to them. I love gardens, the ocean, skies, as I see them here. I love this environment in a way that exalts its infinite variety and appeal.

Painting is often a hermetic and mysterious process.

We often wonder what art can do for people. I would say that art humanises society. It brings the reminder that we are more than physical bodies. We have a spirit that needs to be fed and stimulated. Visual art, music, sculpture, drama, and so on keep elevating us and opening doors to more than ourselves.

We can extend our present notion of art by examining how anything done with care can be vrewed as the beginning of an artistic instinct at work. Gardening, cooking and sewing are seen as crafts but they harbour an artistic desire to go further, to discover, to procure thoughts that transcend the merely functional.

When I paint I feel like I am a part of something bigger than myself, in communication with all those who did more or less the same thing, and part of a community within ordinary society.

It might be an idea to give young people the materials to make their own building, and ask them to plant trees. They  will be less prone to destroy things that they have built, and a softer environment can make them feel good. This is where art and politics mix and where they can help each other.

I believe in the redeeming value of art.

Geraldine Robarts, October 2016.


Window to the mind – 2016 exhibition of paintings by Geraldine Robarts

Visual art, like sport, speaks across cultures. A universal language that can be practiced and understood by all, it is a unique vehicle for allowing different voices to be heard. It can unlock communication between diverse nations, peoples, and histories.

The paintings have a power to connect people together through profound information about who we are as human beings and what it means to be human.

It is about acceptance. I can’t stress the word enough: it’s about acceptance of the world around you. When making a painting the most important thing to me is the preservation of the canvas – the sense that it has been created to  survive and its longevity is certain. These paintings done in the best materials will live long after the artist.

I try to create something with the best intentions which I hope will help people. It is really something special. It’s a community that really cares about each other and is generous. My own experiences in life have convinced me of the importance of the community as a whole. I think that that I have gained a greater sense of my responsibility towards humanity and I try to do the best I can. I believe that I am involved in an activity which respects the viewers and strives to help them go beyond their limitations. The same thing the artist does is to push the boundaries to discuss infinite possibilities.

Letting people feel secure about their own history. It goes past their cultural history. It’s about their own well-being without criticism. I try to create a work which is about acceptance. I think in art there is a hierarchy of one’s own  interests but there is no place for judgement. I think the liberating aspect is the removal of anxiety. I have always tried to be at the service of my work and I have always tried to have a platform for it. I have tried to reveal everything I can, because it is only through experience that one can expand one’s parameters even further.

I think generosity is so important for artists – the only thing we can do is to be generous. If you try to create art it is just a decorative exercise and ultimately the only positive thing that can come of it is that it reverts you back in contact with real art. Real art just appears: one has to listen to one’s self and follow one’s interests, and when something speaks to one, one has to respond to it and do it. Ultimately, I think this always happens in the viewer. In dealing with ideas I find that my responsibility to be able to communicate those ideas to people I am working with and keep the intellectual and emotional ideas as pure as possible.

I strongly believe in going with life as it presents itself. It actually provides you with a more interwoven experience with life, with people, with yourself.

Kenya now is full of new opportunities. It’s a constant opportunity now!

Every action can be an opportunity to try to help people and be generous in life and to make this experience as positive as possible for everyone.

Seascapes – “Made in Heaven” work that I am nonetheless proud of. I think that some of the paintings are beautiful and I know that my intentions with the work were really good. The important thing in art is that it can help people accept themselves; once you accept yourself, you are able to move on and actually go to a higher state.

You encourage the viewer by empowering them with a vision and perhaps the chance that art may really transform their lives. If people can just accept their own history and embrace themselves, art be a tremendous vehicle for self-empowerment and enlightenment. It gives one the security one has with one’s own body and of being at one with nature.

My work is very intuitive so the type of images I am drawn to are equally intuitive. I believe that there are certain things in life that one can feel more attracted to but I really don’t believe in judgement. I think trust and relationships are most important.

The only thing I can say is that art is meeting a need in people. Art is really a perfect vehicle for it. Because it’s a hub; this hub unites all the different disciplines of the world. It brings architecture together with physics, with philosophy, with sociology, with music and dance. It brings everything together. I think people understand that; it’s helping to bring transcendence to their life. I am always thinking about humankind and how each of us can try to make the world a better place.

The key in life is adaptability and art always has to be adaptable too. I weave in realism, semi-realism, abstraction, different techniques because I try to push the boundaries every day in my studio and ask myself “WHAT IF”.

Thank you very much for coming to share these paintings. I hope you have enjoyed the exhibition.

My next exhibition in Nairobi

My next exhibition is from 21-31 October 2016 Daily from 10am – 6pm at the Exhibition Hall at Village Market, Gigiri, Nairobi. All are welcome!

Click here for a preview of some of the paintings on display.

My life story | 260mm x 260mm | Oil on paper

This painting is called “My life Story” It’s just finished and I love it.

This painting is called “My life Story” It’s just finished and I love it.