3 is a magic number – featured artist Neil Roberts


This series of blogs features the talented artists participating in ‘3 is the Magic Number’ exhibition in Bristol. The exhibition was curated by four Bristol artists – Jimmer Willmott, Jemma Davies, DIFF and GUTS.

 Each artist was asked to produce 3 new pieces of work A3,A4 and A5.

Neil’s first painting for the ‘3 is a magic number’ exhibition is based on the first painting he did when he moved to the UK from South Africa in 2001.  He was missing home particularly in his first winter.  ‘It was really cold and I was feeling really homesick (the tear in the eye).  The painting was a commission for a client who had had dreams about the eye of a storm.  This was a study of Dali’s retina for the eye.   At the time I was not sure whether I should stay or go back to my girlfriend in South Africa- this is indicated by the ship sailing towards the sunset.’

He says he placed the canvas in front of the window above the radiator to blot out the grey UK skies and the cold.  We are glad he  made it through that first winter and made the UK his home.


His next piece in the show is Femme Fatale which was a painting of an old girlfriend from school and also inspired by a song by the band The Velvet Underground. ‘She really was a femme fatale, you would see boys sitting on a wall in tears – broken’.  He added that he and his muse are now good friends.

This oil on canvas work is so fine people often mistake this for a photograph – such is his fine art skill.


His final piece in the show is ‘Ivory Towers’.  He painted the original for an exhibition a couple of years ago after a visit back home.  After being horrified by the amount of poaching when he returned he hosted an exhibition of the same name and invited artists to submit work with a percentage of profits going to the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.   He continues to donate an amount to the IAPF with all print sales of this piece.   The original was painted from a photograph he took whilst on holiday – which he gave to his sister.


Over the last few years Neil has been working as a professional printer at 212 Productions specialising in photographing and printing work for artists, photographers and illustrators.  He said that the skills needed to accurately represent artists work has had an unexpected influence on his own art work: ‘The printing business has impacted on my work, the focus and the precision and also (inspired by working with street artists) using airbrush in the final mixed media piece for the show’.

This can be seen in the dramatic effect of the photograph of the original combined with the airbrush work of the targets in the water – powerful stuff.


What Neil says of his work:

‘I am most inspired by dreams, music, obscure books and the human form (the female form in particular). I am an idea factory and love to be taken away by a tangent of creative impulses pushing me into realms of profound experiences. I have borrowed and in turn paid homage to the surrealist artists, occult writer ‘ Dali, Crowley, erotic photographers like Roy Stewart and in particular painter/photographer Man Ray.  My early forms of inspiration emanated from the Roger Dean album covers of my father’s rock collection. I usually start a piece with a certain concept or vision in mind which usually branches into an avalanche of related ideas. I then try to filter the resulting raw material and create a certain core theme usually using digital software. I paint from a combination of life painting and photographs.’

You can see these three pieces of work at The Ropewalk in Bristol as part of the ‘3 Is A Magic Number’ exhibition- on till 14 April 2017.

Links for Neil Roberts:


212 Productions 

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