Solo Exhibition – My first titled: “When words are hard to find” at Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist

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No. 40 - 'When words are hard to find' Solo Exhibition of Karen Robinson 6.5.15 Gallery ready for Opening night at Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery for Exhibition.JPG

No. 40 – ‘When words are hard to find’ Solo Exhibition of Karen Robinson 6.5.15 Gallery ready for Opening night at Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery for Exhibition.JPG




Art exhibitions have taught me, that art can be a very powerful way to engage with others; a way to captivate an audience’s attention and convey a story about my inner most personal thoughts and emotions.  For myself especially – exhibiting my paintings has been about being able to communicate a soulful message, to highlight important issues; and to give the viewer something to mull over, well after viewing the art work itself.  Hence exhibiting selected pieces of my Abstract Art Portfolio, has been an important part of my ‘art for therapy’ journey.


Special Note: Transport Accident Commission Victoria made a short video of myself on the opening night of the exhibition. I talk about how my art has been a form of therapy over the last five years since the death of my son who had been killed in road trauma 5th November 2009. A very big thank you to TAC’s CEO – Janet Dore for seeing the value in spending the time and money in capturing this very special moment in my life. Link:


On Wednesday the 6th May, 2015 I had my very first solo exhibition titled ‘….When words are hard to find at Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery, Hume Global Learning Centre, Craigieburn, Melbourne – Australia.  It’s a Hume City Council solo exhibition which features 16 of my abstract paintings that ‘offer an intimate perspective of loss and growth, from an impressive collection’ – the Hume Major, Councillor Adem Atmaca had said.  They range from 2008 to 2015 and will be on public display during May and June 2015.  NB:  None of my paintings are for sale, they are just to personal to sell but I hope that by sharing my art work alongside of their painting stories – will help others to understand that using ‘art for therapy’ can help improve ones sense of wellbeing.







Choosing which abstract paintings for exhibition was difficult, as I had not had a solo exhibition before, and therefore could choose from my whole collection of some 60 abstract paintings I had completed over the last 7 years, from 2008 to 2015.  After consulting the Gallery Curator – Tobias Hengeveld, I decided to invite him to my home art studio and view all of what I thought to be my best works and see what he thought.  We viewed each abstract painting, discussed its merits and gradually put together a range that both of us were happy with; then reduced the number to just 15 paintings all up for the exhibition.  Later, I added one more, a painting I had just completed and felt it was a good addition.  Once the paintings had arrived at the gallery, three days before the solo exhibition, it became clear to me, that we needed to add in two additional paintings to complete the overall feel and look of the exhibition.  After discussions with Tobias and taking into account the space available, one other painting was withdrawn, which meant, we now had a total of 17 paintings for the solo exhibition.  Below is a slide-show of the paintings currently on exhibition at the Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery – Craigieburn, Melbourne – Australia.  NB:  Abstract painting stories can be found by clicking on Abstract Art Portfolio.



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In preparation for my solo exhibition, I was asked if I would be giving anything out to those who came on the opening night. After some reflection, I decided to produce a presentation folder that would make a small statement. I wanted to make sure that the viewers of the art work, would have a deeper understanding about me as an abstract artist, about my ‘art for therapy’ journey and how through my painting stories, I had come from ‘…when words are hard to find’ to ‘finding joy in every day’!

So I set about producing a presentation folder that firstly had an abstract painting on its cover.  Whilst all the covers were the same format, each I painted individually which meant each folder was unique.  Inside the right had side cover, I placed a copy of Hume City Council’s Media Release and an artist’s statement which read:

Hume Artist, Karen Robinson is a painter, story-teller, photo-taker and blogger.  Karen is a self-taught artist, having taken up her childhood love of painting again, later in her adult life.

As inspiration for her artwork, Karen draws on feelings and emotions evoked by situations experienced throughout her life, such as great family moments, family tragedy, career experiences, travelling adventures, current local and world events.

With painting, Karen explores colour and shape as an intuitive way of conveying her story.  Once she has completed a painting, she then writes its story, so that the viewer may have a clearer understanding about her as an artist and about the painting itself.

“…Art gave me a voice when words were hard to find, or when I did find the words, too hard to say out loud.  It gave me a way of moving forward in the most difficult of times…I came to understand that art can be a very powerful way of communication with others…”

In June 2009, Karen took part in a community exhibition called Ways Out – Journeys through Recovery” at Synergy Gallery, Northcote as part of the High Street Northcote Visual Arts Festival.  Karen has also participated in Transport Accident Commission (TAC) Exhibitions called “Picture This” in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.  TAC’s ‘Picture This’ Exhibition provides people who have been affected by road trauma, the opportunity to use artistic expression to share their experiences.

In 2014, Karen was a recipient of a ‘Hume City Council Arts Award’ for ‘Professional development Grant’ in the category of Established Visual Artists.  Hume City Council’s Solo Exhibition of Karen Robinson’s paintings will run from Thursday 7th May to Sunday 26th June 2015.”



Inside the presentation folder, on the left hand side, I included a single page for every abstract painting being exhibited, along with its painting story.  I felt that each and every person attending on the night would not only be able to read the painting story from their given presentation folder, but would also take away with them, a piece of shared memory of my solo exhibition that they could reflect upon afterwards; they could share with family, friends and work colleagues.





My dear husband prepared all the abstract paintings for transportation.  Each painting was carefully wrapped in bubble wrap, to ensure it would not get damaged during its transportation, nor during the handling process of packing and unpacking of the paintings.







Once the abstract paintings had been delivered to gallery – my husband and I went about helping Tobias,the curator, as best we could, in setting up the gallery.  Walls had to be freshened up with paint and some walls completely repainted.  I unwrapped the abstract paintings of their bubble wrap cocoons and lent them against the stark whitish walls.  Tobias worked his magic and decided which should go where within the gallery to ensure each painting complimented the other.  He then masterfully hung each painting, printed up the text captions which under his instructions, I placed below each painting.  Tobias placed onto the wall the name of the exhibition and it was then official – the exhibition of ‘…When words are hard to find’ was now about to happen. I took a moment to reflect!  We vacuumed the flooring and Tobias set about doing the process of considering what lighting needed to be where, to ensure each abstract painting was properly featured and shown at its best.  Then the TV monitor was put in place, so that the TAC video interview of my self back in 2011 about art for therapy, could play continuously in the back ground during the opening night and during the public exhibition hours forthcoming.


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After all the work had been completed and with the abstract paintings all hung and lit, it was with some pride and amazement that I felt when standing back and taking a good look at my art work.  I felt very privilege to have had the opportunity to have this solo exhibition, where I was able to share my ‘art for therapy’ journey with family, friends, colleagues, gallery curator Tobias Hengeveld, Jacqueline Grenfell – Arts and Cultural Planner at Hume, Hume City Councillors and other community members within my home region of Hume. Thank you all …






The monitor was strategically placed along side of an abstract painting that I had painted for my only son who had been killed in a single vehicle car crash on the 5th November, 2009 – just before his 26th birthday.  I had to do a painting to celebrate his life; to know that the time Ben was here with us, was a treasure, shared by so many.  Ben was loved and cherished and will be missed so much by all, but mostly by myself – his mum, his dad and his sister.  Each band of colour represents a year of Ben’s life from being a baby, toddler, small child, older child, teenager through to becoming a fully grown young man.   Each colour represents different emotions, feelings, experiences and growth that Ben achieved in his life with us.  The sphere represents the worlds of people he had in his life; his own family, extended family members, work colleagues, girlfriend and best mates.





Details in relation to the Video – Transport Accident Commission (TAC) CLIENT VIDEO: Featuring Karen Robinson talking about using ‘art for therapy’ for TAC’s 2011 ‘Picture This’ Exhibition.  It is “now in its fifth year and provides people who have been affected by road trauma to use artistic expression, whether it is drawing, painting, printmaking, ceramics, photography or textiles, to share their experiences.  The exhibitions showcase artwork by people who have either taken up art since being involved in a  transport accident, or who were artists before their accident“. TAC (2013). Client art exhibition – Picture This 2013. Retrieved from TAC





TAC also attended this exhibition and interviewed me, once again and photographed some of the opening night – a big thankyou needs to be extended to Janet Dore – TAC’s CEO for believing that my ‘art for therapy’ journey is worthy of such time, effort and expense…  Hopefully by sharing my story with TAC Clients, will help others find their voice by taking up a passion – “…when words are hard to find’ and reach a place were they can find joy in every day…





The opening night of the solo exhibition was a very special moment for me.  To be joined by family, friends from Kangan Institute Broadmeadows and work colleagues from Road Trauma Support Services, neighbours, along with Hume City Councillors, TAC media representatives and the gallery curator, my dear husband and my darling daughter and her good husband – was a moment that I will remember well.  Some of these people knew about the fact that I painted, but had not really had the opportunity to view the paintings in such a way, nor had they had the opportunity to read each of these painting stories until this moment.  It was very satisfying to see people take the time to read and view each painting.  I felt I had been given the chance to reveal what I had been thinking, I finally got a change to say out loud what I had been holding in for many years.  I had come from ‘…when words are had to find’ to a place where my voice was being heard through my abstract paintings and my painting stories.  It was a good feeling!



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A big thank you to my daughter who kindly took photos for me on the opening night of my solo exhibition … thank you.






It was a humbling experience to have people take time out of their lives to share this moment with me.  I hope they took away an experience that will give them something to ponder about; to get them thinking about the value of ‘art for therapy’

I wish to repeat these words of mine, for they really state it clearly my thoughts about my ‘art for therapy’ journey:-


“…Art gave me a voice when words were hard to find, or when I did find the words, too hard to say out loud.  It gave me a way of moving forward in the most difficult of times…I came to understand that art can be a very powerful way of communication with others…”


M‘art for therapy’ journey has taken another turn.  My paintings, along with their painting stories are reaching out to others.  How lucky am I to have had Hume City Council give me this opportunity to have my very first solo exhibition.  It does not matter, if there will not be another, just having this one has been most satisfying.  Art therapy at its best for sure….



Whilst you are here – please check out my home page!  My Art Therapy Journey – A window into the soul of an Abstract Artist through art therapy and storytelling…by Karen Robinson

10 thoughts on “Solo Exhibition – My first titled: “When words are hard to find” at Gee Lee-Wik Doleen Gallery – Karen Robinson Abstract Artist

    • Hi Jean,
      It’s pleasing to read your comments and makes me feel it was worth the trouble of photographing and putting together this blog about my solo exhibition … thank you so much Jean … warm regards Karen


  1. Thank you for sharing your life experiences and the process of setting up an exhibit. I paint for the pure enjoyment but when my husband first became ill I found it was also great therapy. He’s been in remission for a couple of years but we now have another hurdle to cross. I think I may be returning to my art as therapy to get me through this next phase of our life. Your work is beautiful and inspires me to keep on painting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Carol,
      I too paint for the purpose of using art for therapy. None of my paintings at this exhibition were available for purchase – the paintings are just too personal and I find it hard to think about parting with them. But I hoped by sharing would help others understand the value of art for therapy. I understand something of what you may be feeling in regards to your husband as my husband back in 2008 had been diagnosed with Lymphoma. He had chemo and now after five years plus is in the clear. Yes … going back to art for therapy could be one measure you could us to help you with this new hurdle you speak of… I wish you well and hope that your use of art for therapy can help you maintain a good sense of wellbeing and gives you strength to endure…sincerely Karen

      Liked by 1 person

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