British artist Ed Roberts is a painter of flowers who lives in Gozo. Ed has always been keen to make her work accessible to a wide audience and loves engaging people who enjoy her art. Ed took part in Allura’s 2018 event The Trail, during which the public was invited into more than 50 pop-up open studios hosting Malta-based artists. Ed met the public and demonstrated her techniques alongside three other artists at Portomaso Business Tower.
The Trail: Portomaso Business Tower Album:
Ed paints flowers: not with the delicate watercolours of a botanical illustrator whose accurate lines capture every vein and structural perfection anonymously, instead presenting the flowers she chooses with theatrical flair; covering large-scale canvases with lavish deep colours, fluid brush strokes and an astonishing abstract beauty.
Bold layers highlight the personality of a flower, which she first studies in real life to ‘absorb’ their structure and character. Her sketches are very different from her painted pieces yet draw equal admiration. Small and neat, they have a graphic feel, and for these Ed chooses pantone colours from a set range with a precision almost diametrically opposite to the intuitive approach she uses for mixing acrylics.
Ed uses strong colour and, although the range within each painting tends to be tonal, expect a striking splash of a contrasting colour to add an extra dimension, a dramatic twist or a note of intrigue. “Often I use rich teal, blue, and purples for example, and then I might throw in a sharp yellow, or against fuscias, reds and oranges I’ll use an acidic green”, she explains.
A British-born artist who lives in Kercem, Gozo, Ed fell in love with the island after a six-month stay and then relocated permanently with her family. She has now been in Malta for three years.
“I grew up in SE England with a very English garden with grass and neat borders and a narrow selection of everyday blooms but I loved their intricacy and their colours nonetheless,’ she enthuses. ‘Later, I would visit the world-famous Kew Gardens and other botanical gardens to track down unusual specimens, looking out for colours and layers, forms and reflections that caught my eye. When we moved to Gozo, I was overwhelmed by the wealth and surprising splendour of the flora that I could see on rugged roadsides or growing out of walls and cliffs like the exuberant fennel plant. Or the striking flowers of the pomegranate, the delicate white and pink caper flowers which are each like a magical moment unfurled and then gone, and the incredible bird-of-paradise flower”.
“The light here is also very special – it has an incredible quality, which makes such a difference for painting and brightens your mood: that’s important when you’re working creatively. Painting in sunshine beneath a blue sky I feel as if I’m capturing a wonderful feeling of escapism and freedom for the viewer”.
“I’m currently working on a canvas of the castor oil plant,’ she enthuses, ‘because it seems to almost represent the local culture in plant format! At festa season, crazy fireworks light up the sky over Victoria and the villages with giant spiky splashes of colour and the zany red and pink balls exploding on the castor oil plant remind me of these celebrations. I’ll also do some smaller versions close-up, pulling out details so these finished canvases will be more abstract”.