R o b y n M a y o
Plants, gardens and landscapes have always been a part of my life and are my creative inspiration in printmaking, watercolour and drawing. A visit to the Kimberley region in 1989 expanded my practice from garden to landscape. The horizons, jagged escarpments, ochres, reds, purples and vast blue skies are unique and beautiful. I looked from the vastness of the landscape to the insects and plants, which have cleverly adapted to the climatic conditions.
In 2000, I developed an Australian Navigator series of drawings and etchings celebrating Dampier, Cook and Baudin, who brought the unknown specimens of Australia’s unique vegetation to Europe. I now live in Tasmania and am exploring the unique landscape of this ancient island.
After studying at North Sydney Technical College and the National Art School, Sydney, from 1961 to 1963, Robyn Mayo travelled extensively in Europe, attending classes in life drawing at the École des Beaux Arts, Geneva, and lectures in architecture at the Louvre, Paris between 1964-1966. During this time, British House and Garden published her architectural drawings. Later, from 1974 to 1979, she drew and painted in the Justelius Studio, Crows Nest. It was here, following the death of Henry Justelius, that Suzanne Cadby introduced her to watercolour, which became her favoured medium. Meanwhile, Rick Badger, Edwina Maxwell and Elizabeth Rooney nurtured her interest in etching and printmaking.
Her grandmother’s love of gardening, and Mayo’s own interest in biology at school, were mirrored in her first solo exhibition, Artistic Reflections on the Garden, in 1986, and Artist Reflections on the Tree, in 1990, both at Blaxland Gallery, Sydney. A visit to the Kimberley region of Western Australia in 1989 led to an ongoing interest in the flora and landscape of desert areas, particularly the way indigenous people use plants both medicinally and for sustenance. This experience resulted in the 1994 publication, A Kimberley Odyssey, and related exhibition at the Australian Galleries, Sydney, in 1996. Mayo’s subsequent exhibitions, Australian Flora: 200 Years of Environmental and Cultural Change, at Goulburn Regional Gallery in 2000, and Specimens from New Holland, at the Sturt Gallery, Mittagong, explore the theme of early Australian navigators and their influence on Australian botanical history. Her recent solo exhibition, Vast, was shown, in 2017, at the Queen Victoria Museum & Art Gallery, Tasmania, the Art Gallery of Ballarat, NSW, and Goulburn Regional Gallery, NSW.
Mayo has been a finalist in the Glover Prize, Tasmania (2004, 2006, 2012); the Dobell Prize for Drawing, Art Gallery of New South Wales (1994, 2006, 2008); the Wynne Prize, Art Gallery of New South Wales (1986, 1991) and the 2002 Fremantle Print Award. In 1996, her exhibition catalogue, Kimberley Odyssey, won a bronze medal in the National Print Awards.
She is represented in public, corporate and private collections in Australia and abroad, including Artbank, Macquarie Bank, Mitchell Library, Sydney, the National Trust of Australia, Ballarat and Goulburn Regional Galleries and Eton College Library, United Kingdom.
Robyn Mayo has been a member of the Australian Watercolour Institute since 1998.