Making a viola

This series of work celebrates craftsmanship – and specifically the work of the musical instrument maker. It has been a great pleasure and privilege working with luthier, Christopher Martyn, over the past few months, observing and making drawings and paintings of the process and progress of making a viola.

To watch the raw materials – maple, spruce, mahogany and ebony – being gradually, painstakingly and meticulously shaped, carved and transformed into the elaborate and elegant shape of a viola, and to follow all the processes of finishing and varnishing until the stage is reached when the instrument is at last ready to be strung and played – and for the first time its voice sings out in all its richness and fullness of tone – is a fascinating and exciting experience.

I hope the series will set people thinking about just how much work, skill and knowledge goes into the craft of making a beautiful instrument, and about the nature of music making too. I hope it may appeal to makers, musicians, artists and to people who are none of these, but whose curiosity may be aroused by this revelation of a fascinating and inspirational process.

The series consists of large charcoal drawings, pencil drawings, watercolour, oil and a linocut (echoing the carving process).

Gill Robinson
December 2014