I trained as a painter at Bath and Falmouth Schools of Art, thereafter, painting scenic backdrops at the Royal Opera House. I was then drawn into a productive and stimulating career in filmmaking. Recently I felt a fierce yearning to paint again, in part to process grief and loss, but also due to the immense sensory pleasure of making.


The Persian poet Rumi wrote, ‘The wound is where the light enters you”, and these words resonate deeply within me. My paintings are intimate. They embrace and probe at my sense of femininity and the complex cluster of feelings that entails. I have had a lifelong battle with a condition that means pain has been a frequent companion. With the passing of an intense ache, stillness is a soothing friend, and it is this contrast that is a recurring motif in my work. There are centres of tension and depth within an orchestration of sparseness and calm. There is imbalance next to poise, floating and sinking, vulnerability but with teeth. The paintings hover between abstraction and a recognisable presence.


The narrative within the work is purposely suggestive and open to discovery. Fluttering, shrouded veils, bandages or patches hide or reveal. Fabric or screens may appear torn or ripped. Scar tissue or open voids linger. Traces of stitches and repairs heal and nurture. A sense of bindings, cages, or leaden weights give way to notes of elevation, weightlessness, flight. The language of signs or symbols, perhaps protective talismans, weave in and out. Areas of light quiver and flicker. Ripples of colour glow or perish.


I patiently and delicately build up thin layers of oil paint on canvas, forms lying over forms, feeling nearer or further away in relation to one another. Past ages of paint disappear and edges dissolve, or I will rub back to reveal the history that has been. I savour the handling of paint. The pulsating mark making will then contrast with a rhythmic movement of washes of colour that stain or move across the plane.  The paintings emerge. They need time. I like to work on a larger scale as I am drawn to a vital physicality in the act of painting.



Rebekah Gilbertson


September 2022