I feel absolutely certain this was an experience that I share with many other artists and sketchers.
I'm very sorry to have to share with those of you who knew her that Robyn passed away on Saturday evening after a long illness.
|Robyn Sinclair waiting for dinner in Provence - in June 2011|
Photograph by Ronelle van Wyck
It's also sprinkled with comments from Robyn....
I can do 'extrovert' when necessary but am introvert by nature..... It's a great advantage in life to be a good listener.Robyn was somebody who registered with me very early on after we found each other online.
The title of her blog helped. Have Dogs, Will Travel is not a title you forget easily! The story of how she came to be living in Italy was also rather good!
As the months and years passed I got to know Robyn very much better and she became one of a very small group of art blogger/artist friends with whom I corresponded on a regular basis 'behind the scenes'.
Robyn also became an active member of a small group of friends who did projects online.
- First we had 'Sketchercise' which I started as a project to lose weight. The idea was to incorporate walking and sketching and lose weight and fill our sketchbooks! Our group is still going and to say we are all devastated by the news is an understatement.
- Out of that grew A Postcard from my Walk which was a blog project that records a monthly postal exchange of sketches on postcards between 14 members of Sketchercise over the course of one year. The idea was that by the end of it we all ended up with a postcard from every member of the group.
- Finally, we did the next best thing - and went on holiday together - in the Postcard from Provence house in the south of France. This generated another blog - Four Go Painting in Provence covering the activities of Sarah Wimperis, Ronelle van Wyck, Robyn and myself. We had a really marvellous time.
|My sketch of Sarah and Robyn - after the order was placed and before dinner arrived|
sat on the terrace of the Restaurant Vieux Four in Crillon Le Brave, Provence 16th June 2011
See Dinner at Restaurant du Vieux Four, Crillon Le Brave
I've got many happy memories of Robyn
|My sketch the cheese course|
from our lunch at
Fortnum & Masons
When I started making my 'Must See' list, I began with my blogging friend, Katherine Tyrrell of Making a Mark. Until now Katherine and I had never met face to face, so we exchanged a couple of candid photographs and arranged to meet outside the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly. Katherine had offered me an incredible choice of itineraries for our day and we settled on visiting the Summer Exhibition, preceded by coffee and conversation in the Friend's Room at the Royal Academy and followed by lunch at Fortnum & Mason's across the road. We were chatting like very old friends from the moment we met. London Sketches by Robyn Sinclair
I remember learning that day about her less well known 'past' as a writer and producer of very many television shows for Australian television - she has an IMDb entry and these are her credits on Screen Australia. She was extraordinarily helpful when I started making videos of exhibitions - advising on which skills to work on and which shots worked well. I have Robyn's voice in my brain every time I sit down to try and edit a video. [Update: This is a Vale: Robin Sinclair on the Australian TV blog TV Tonight and based on the Vale for Robyn from the Australian Writers Guild]
I also remember how much she enjoyed writing and reading good writing. Robyn arrived in Italy with a husband (a writer) and two dogs - the wonderful Dermott (who had his own blog) and his little accomplice Snowy. As we got to know one another better our pets decided they'd like to join in and over time a lengthy and intermittent correspondence ensued via blog comment and email between the wonderful Dermott (I loved that dog!) and my cat Cosmo - engineered with help from their respective 'parents'. I was never very sure whether it was Robyn or her husband writing - I suspect it was a bit of a joint enterprise as I know how much they both enjoyed good writing. I do know I was really upset when Dermott died and just how big a hole he left in both their lives - especially after the earlier loss of Snowy.
She was also a good critical friend when it came to 'important stuff' with respect to writing. She was one of the few I trusted to read my first drafts of my book.
When it came to the art side of things, I loved the fact she Robyn was always keen to try all sorts of different approaches to art. She kept trying new art materials and new ways of doing things. She hit her stride when she found her own particular approach to painting a still life (which always reminded me of Mary Fedden) and printmaking. I used to love seeing every new print she made.
|This is a photo of Robyn sketching - I think she's trying out my Art Pen with the extra fine nib!Photograph by Ronelle van Wyck|
|Robyn with her innovation - a replacement for a lost water jar|
- in the grounds of the Abbay de Senanque
see Abbaye de Senanque and the Lavender Fields
I vividly remember an epic walk back to the house from a visit to the market in Bedoin and the boulangerie with the bread - when we'd set off too late (my fault) and lingered too long in the market (my fault) on what turned out to be a very hot morning. We both wilted in the heat!
Robyn loved watching me sketch. She never made me feel self-conscious and never asked too many questions (which is usually what stops me sketching when people start watching). She watched as carefully as she listened.
|Robyn watching me sketch - sat outside on the terrace waiting for dinner|
Photograph by Ronelle van Wyck
|My sketch of the House and fields - and the back of Robyn's head|
|The House by Robyn Sinclair|
So much to paint, so little time. What a joy it is to live with three other painters!
Robyn wasn't the sort of person who ever wanted to talk about her illness - we got short updates from time to time. I guess the fact that she has been seriously ill for quite some time will come as a big surprise to many people - even those she was corresponded with. Indeed this time last year, it seemed as if things were looking up and possible that things might be getting better. I know I'd been very hopeful for her.
She was also hugely supportive of all the various ailments and illnesses that crop up as one gets older - or suddenly arrive out of the blue with no notice whatever your age. Nobody was a better support than Robyn when things looked grim!
I am only sorry now that I hadn't corresponded more with her of late but I really dislike intruding on people when they're dealing with serious illness and 'go quiet'. I guess like many others it's always difficult to find the right things to say. More fool us for not making the effort....
Instead I thought it worked better to respond to comments made on blog posts she liked or Facebook Group threads she participated in - as and when she was able to do this.
My condolences go out to her husband Graeme, her daughter Helen and her grandson Hugo - who she was determined to be around to be able to see - and so she was! I was so pleased for her that she made that milestone and knew the pleasure of being a grandmother and making books for and hugging her grandson
I'm really happy for Robyn that she's no longer challenged by her condition or in pain.
I'm happy for all of us who knew her - for the fact we knew her and for the way she dripped joy into one's life - a little bit at a time - and always knew the right thing to say......
Robyn's Facebook Page has been deactivated. So I'd like to take the opportunity to share this post with anybody who would like to make a record of their memories of Robyn and what she meant to them. Please leave a comment below and I'll send the link to this page to her husband.