Neil Roberts

Edwards, Geoffrey,

"Neil Roberts"

Glass, Review, # 68, Fall 1997.

Geoffrey Edwards

Neil Roberts is a mercurial artist. One moment he is the author of unsettling artifacts that combine found and weathered metal components with clear and delicate trails or parisons of glass. The poignancy of these hybrid forms derives from a chill contrast between the sharpness and menace of the one element of the work with the sense of deflating irony introduced by the other, the inflated bubble or twisted coil of glass.

At other times, Roberts is an appropriator of found objects that he transforms into a stupendous and spidery apparatus that hurtles across the still waters of an artificial lake like some rogue Catherine-wheel run amok. Then there are witty installations that insinuate neon text or motif into the urban environment.

More recent work by Roberts signals a return to his earlier studio experimentation with neon light. In Act 3 of Julius Caesar, there is talk of cold modesty. We have quite the reverse, so it seems, in certain of Roberts’ new works which are identified by the titles Hotly and Modesty* (sic). Indeed, they look hot, and their rosy incandescence is due to the implanting of red neon tubing inside the orange latex bladders that are made as the internal sheath of footballs used in several variations on the Australian code of the game. Fused together in pneumatic loops or Bancusi-like “endless” columns and illuminated from within, these deceptively simple configurations emit a pulse that is as sensual as it is optical.

* Correct title is Modestly