Interview with Abbey Walk Artist Robert Priseman

Abbey Walk Gallery, Grimsby, opens Easterlines today. The exhibition is a curated selection of work from the East Contemporary Art collection, founded by Simon Carter and Robert Priseman in 2013. In bringing a number of artists together, the showcase develops a dialogue between the individual concerns of each artist, reflecting on the nature of contemporary art today. We speak to curator and artist Robert Priseman about the ideas behind the project and his own approach to artistic production.

A: How would you define your practice?
I am a contemporary artist who wishes to engage with challenging issues such as war, crime and personal trauma through the traditional medium of oil paint. The use of paint, in turn, enables me to gain a metaphorical sense of the emotional territory of the subject.

A: Can you tell us a little about your show at Abbey Walk Gallery?
Abbey Walk is an exciting venue to be working with and in this show we are seeking to explore three core strands of contemporary artistic practice: the relationship to the physical environment, the exploration by artists of socio-political events and the expression of personal trauma in the creative act.

A: Along with Simon Carter you presented East Contemporary Art: A Collection of 21st Century Practice – what was the thinking behind this?
The East of England has many distinguished museum collections such as the Fitzwilliam Museum and Gainsborough’s House, as well as a vibrant national and international art scene. So, late in 2012, Simon and I set out to see if we could bring together a new permanent collection, distinct from the historic collections yet complimentary to them, which would act as a showcase for the wealth of national and international artistic talent at work on our very doorstep.

A: What do you think is exciting about contemporary art today?
RP: At the beginning of the 21st century we find that artists have adopted the use of “media” over “movements”, which has given rise to a new “ism” in artistic practice, that of “individualism”. This means creatives have become free to explore and respond uniquely to the world they find themselves in.

A: Which artists have inspired you?
Historically artists such as Hans Holbein, Johannes Vermeer, John Constable and Francisco Goya, whist today I find myself in awe of the talent of many of my peers. At the moment I’m especially enjoying looking at the work of Alex Hanna, Susan Gunn and Silvie Jacobi, so much so that I have established a new 21st century British Painting collection which is now available for museum loan.

Easterlines, 5 August – 13 September, Abbey Walk Gallery, 8 Abbey Walk, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN31 1NB.
Find out more at

1. Robert Priseman, Operating Theatre.
2. Maggi Hambling, Night Wave Churning.
3. Linda Ingham – Open Series – Self Portrait 1, study, Oil & Stitch on Linen, 20II.