Strings, Symbols, and Fantasy Instruments: An Insight Into Leo Robinson's Residency

Strings, Symbols, and Fantasy Instruments: An Insight Into Leo Robinson's Residency

This September, G.A.S. Lagos welcomes Glasgow-based Leo Robinson, an artist and musician embarking on a research and production residency supported by our Residency Partner Tiwani Contemporary. His primary goal is to create work for upcoming UK exhibitions while immersing himself in Nigeria's culture, heritage, and music. 

Leo envisions crafting fantasy instruments, exploring his African ancestry, and connecting with traditional craftspeople, particularly those skilled in string instruments like Koras. He eagerly anticipates visits to national museums, galleries, and music venues, seeking inspiration and collecting materials from local markets. With his own tools in tow, Leo is thrilled to experience the diverse artistic landscape of Nigeria, opening new avenues for self-discovery and creative expression.


What is the current focus of your creative practice?

I am currently exploring ways of creating or speculating contemporary systems of knowledge that are hybrids, recontextualized from multiple levels of culture, religion, belief, and aesthetics, with a focus on exploring what might fill the voids left by colonial erasure and displacement.


The infinity card, 2023. Photo courtesy of the artist. Image credit: Jess Holdengarde 

What drew you to apply for this residency and how do you think it will inform your wider practice?

I am still in the process of coming to terms with my West African ancestry, a process that is intertwined with my creative practice as I create objects and images that play loosely with ideas of identity, place, and heritage. To do the G.A.S. residency in Lagos this year seems like a perfect place and time to explore these themes and allow the work to integrate new symbols and materials with a good amount of support, as well as having the opportunity to share my projects with other residents and the local community.


Photo courtesy of the artist. Image credit: Stuart Whipps

Can you give us an insight into how you hope to use the opportunity?

I'm currently working towards a number of exhibitions and I plan to use the residency as a sort of incubator to produce and develop work in a totally new environment and headspace. I've been designing and fabricating these fantasy string instruments to be shown as part of an installation and I intend to construct them partly at the residency, as well as doing some block printing for the same installation and some works on paper for two more shows. I also intend to use the GAS library to begin new threads of research for future projects.


The infinity card, 2023. Photo courtesy of the artist. Image credit: Jess Holdengarde


About Leo

Leo Robinson is an artist and musician living and working in Glasgow. His work explores the creation of new symbols and spiritual technologies. Recent solo exhibitions include 'The Infinity Card', Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff, UK ‘Theories for Cosmic Joy’, Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK 2019. Group exhibitions include ‘To The Edge of Time’, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium, ‘Antechamber’, Quench, Margate, UK, ‘Bathing Nervous Limbs’, Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh, UK, ‘tender spots in hard code…’, Arebyte, London, UK (all 2021) and ‘Talking Back’, Holden Gallery, Manchester, UK (2019).

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