Gozo artist presents her second solo exhibition : ‘The Nature of Metal’ in Scotland

Jackie Roberts marking mild steel fishJackie Roberts was born in Castleford, West Yorkshire but spent eighteen years in Scotland before moving permanently to the Maltese island of Gozo in 2001.  She now creates art in metal full-time and is part of the community of foreign and local artists and craftspeople who live on this small, tranquil island.  In Scotland Jackie learned artistic metalwork with the ‘Arcangels’ group at Edinburgh’s Telford College from 1998-2000; pursuing her passion for metal after a professional career in environmental education, public and media relations, international community development and arts administration.  She was the first Press Officer at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and worked there from 1990-1995.  

Since Jackie’s first solo exhibition, ‘Go Fish’, in 2007 she has collaborated in six successful group exhibitions and contributed work to numerous collective exhibitions in Malta and Gozo. In 2011 Jackie was awarded a prize by the Malta Crafts Council for innovation and creativity.

Maintaining her connection with Scotland Jackie has exhibited at the Pittenweem Arts Festival; The Strathearn Gallery in Crieff, scotlandart.com and Colours Gallery in Edinburgh. 


The Nature of Metal, Jackie’s second solo exhibition, reflects elements of the character and plant diversity of the two botanic gardens alongside influences and inspiration from Gozo and travels in New Zealand, Africa and Scotland.  Her work crosses the boundaries of art and craft, using traditional metalworking techniques to make imaginative, hand-crafted artwork.


The Nature of Metal includes more than thirty pieces created by the artist over the past eight months. Jackie Roberts explains her work:

“I’m inspired by the landscapes of my mind and the natural world, particularly the sea; cultural symbolism and modernist design. I often use recycled metal, scrap, found objects and plant material in my work; reincarnating what other people have discarded.   I use power and hand tools to cut, texture, mark and shape mild and stainless steel, copper and brass; creating colour using a technique of controlled burning to bring out the hues and tones within the metal.  I like to work with the texture of rust; sometimes I leave metal sheet out in the rain or I pick up a piece of scrap which attracts me just by the way it has aged.  Rust is after all just another aspect of the transitional elements which make up the metal.


‘Landscapes and semi-abstract works involve mark-making and layering contrasting colour and texture to interpret landscape, nature and light. There are sculptural forms inspired by what I see in the plants and trees around me; sometimes incorporating plant material.  I enjoy making ‘Critters’ which are creature creations – lizards, owls, marine life, cats - some realistic, others fanciful or stylized.   One of these is Namrata (sweetheart in Maltese) a Gozo sheep reincarnated from a cast iron bed leg found in the countryside. 

The exhibition includes three wall-mounted sculptures formed from an old copper water tank, originally manufactured in Scotland, transported to Gozo when I moved here.   Burr Shield #1 & #2 are inspired by burrs on a huge, multi-stemmed Douglas Fir tree at Dawyck.  Living Stone is a picture in metal based on mosses and lichens colonising the famous Dawyck ornamental stonework.  I was inspired by a piece of vintage mohair tweed by Borders textile designer Bernat Klein to create two mixed media pieces Threads , from metal and plant material which remind me of  the threads occurring in nature and the autumn colours of Scotland.  Palm Ladders are based on observations of the palm trees in the garden behind my Gozo workshop.  I hope people viewing the exhibition appreciate the nature and artistic possibilities of metal and how nature itself can be depicted in this medium.

I was honored to be invited to exhibit at the Botanic Gardens because of my past associations and family connections in the Scottish Borders. It is a wonderful opportunity to promote my adopted home and guests at the Private View will be able to enjoy a ‘taste of Gozo’ with local liqueurs and foods supplied specially for the exhibition by Gozo Cottage.  Information about this fascinating island will also be available at the exhibition in the hope that more people will be encouraged to visit.  The Ministry for Gozo and Malta Tourism Authority have been very helpful and without their financial support staging an exhibition overseas would not have been possible.” 

A taster of work by two other Gozo designer/makers – Pat Holtom (textiles) and Rachel Robinson (silver jewellery) - with whom Jackie often collaborates is featured in the exhibition. Pat is a textile designer who has had a house in Gozo for forty five years. Pat trained in woven textile design at the Royal College of Art, London. She has a past connection with the Borders textile industry. Her first job after leaving college was with designer Bernat Klein in Galashiels. Later she started a hand weaving workshop in Gozo, which ran very successfully for fifteen years.  For The Nature of Metal Pat and Jackie have created a joint piece: Prickly Pear a wall hanging incorporating metalwork, textiles and plant fibres.  

Rachel Robinson trained in 3D Design Metalcrafts at the University of Lancashire, and worked in museum and gallery education before returning to jewellery making on her move to Gozo in 2008. Rachel’s work is predominately in silver, and includes ranges that draw on her local surroundings including traditional lace making and a collection based on leaves, some of which is showcased within The Nature of Metal.

Some of Jackie’s wearable art: affordable funky plant and animal brooches, pendants and handbag charms/keyrings are available for sale in the Botanics shop.

Jackie will be taking part in two ‘Exhibition Walkabouts’ at Dawyck on Sunday 5 February at 11am and 1pm (duration 1 hour) where she will lead visitors around the exhibition and answer questions about her work.

The artist gratefully acknowledges the support of the Ministry for Gozo, Department for Tourism and Economic Development; Malta Tourism Authority; Gozo Cottage; Gozo Express; Prickly Pear Designs and The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in making this exhibition possible.

Dawyck Botanic Garden, Stobo, nr. Peebles, Scottish Borders 5 February – 29 April

Logan Botanic Garden, Port Logan, Stranraer, Dumfries and Galloway 5 May – 1 July


Jackie Roberts e.mail robertsj@maltanet.net   Malta mobile (00 356) 79 562 753

UK mobile: (27 Jan-5 Feb 2012):  (00 44) 07707 669 450

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The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)