Title: Grisaille II – The Witch of Endor
Size: 40cm x 25cm, 60cm x 45cm framed
Medium: Etching & Watercolour, Edition of 6

Additional Information
Part of Triptych with Library of the Blind and Grisaille I, Old Hamlet. Library of the Blind is a Borgesian infinite library in the shape of a Piranesi prison. It’s intended to represent a sort of memory of the world for amnesiacs. Information proliferates, but is impossible to find in the labyrinth of dark shelves. Or books are misunderstood, forgotten or wilfully destroyed.  Around the edge of the picture is a border with complimentary anecdotes, little pictures in their own right, to provide commentary to the central image. There’s Ophelia watering her rosemary for remembrance under the grim shadow of a concrete tower; there’s Orpheus inflicting the Underworld’s hoary old record collection on a bored Eurydice; there’s Diogenes searching for the skull of a wise man in an ossuary; there is the Qin Emperor of China who destroyed all the books and scholars in his kingdom before building an army of clay to guard his remains in perpetuity; and there are many more scenes of art, memory, books and ghosts. At the top is a mushroom cloud engulfing the Library of Alexandria as it (quoting from Hera Lindsay Bird) burns in alphabetical order.   The piece is conceived as part of a triptych, and is flanked by etched grisailles. On one side is the Witch of Endor, the medium who King Saul asked to summon the spirit of Samuel, while the other side shows the ghost of Old Hamlet on the ramparts of Elsinore. In both these episodes, a person wishes to hear something from the dead. Saul hopes for good news but is confronted by his own death foretold. And young Hamlet, even before meeting his father’s ghost, obviously wants an excuse to wage his vendetta on Claudius (and to ponce around in black tights) - it wouldn’t matter what he is actually told, he’d still do it anyway. The books in theLibrary of the Blind also act as communiques from the dead, and there too, the reader either finds exactly what they want to find, irrelevant of what is written, or they discover truths too uncomfortable to bear.  Robert Powell

Price: £600 framed or £2100 as part of the triptych

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About the Artist

Robert Powell graduated with an MA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art in 2008, and then an MFA in Art, Space and Nature in 2011 at the same institution.

Since then he has exhibited at many places in Scotland and abroad, prizes include the John Watson Prize in 2008, the Benno Schotz RSA prize in 2011 and the Deloitte SSA Prize in 2013. Recent work includes A Universal History of Iniquity, which was a history of the world in 16 etchings and the cosmological doll houses, High Rise and Species of Space: The Incredible Visible City. Currently, he is working on Saints in Spandex, a litany of dead-superheroes, a lament and a prayer.



2009 – 2011; Edinburgh College of Art: Art Space and Nature MFA (distinction)

2003 – 2008; Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art; MA Fine Art in Painting (2/1)


SSA Deloitte Award 2015

Winner of SSA Engramme exchange 2013

Shortlisted for Bristol’s Playable Cities

Winner of the RSA Benno Schotz Award; 2011

Nominated for the ECA Chairman’s Medal 2011

Winner of the John Watson Award 2008

Joint-winner of RMJM Architecture Award 2006

Andrew Grant Award 2007


Paradigm North, Timespan, Helmsdale, Scotland, April-June 2015

Yamaguchi Society for Contemporary Art Residency, Kimachi House, Yamaguchi, Japan, October – November 2013

Akiyoshidai International Art Village, Akiyoshidai, Japan, September-October 2013

Madness in Revolt, Edinburgh University, April 2011

Anti-Tales: The Uses of Disenchantment, Glasgow University, June 2010

Edinburgh Academy, 2008-2009

Solo Exhibitions

The Species of Space, April - July 2016, Edinburgh Printmakers, Edinburgh

The Palace of Forgetting, August 2014, Kaname Art Spot Korin, Kyoto, Japan

The Palace of Forgetting, May 2014, The Warburton Gallery, Edinburgh
Histoire Universelle de l'Infamie, March 2014, Engramme Print Gallery, Quebec, Canada

The Thinking Machine, October 2013, Akiyoshidai International Art Village, Akiyoshidai, Japan

Mapping The Burning Lands: April 2012, Aichi Prefecture University of Fine Art and Music, Nagoya, Japan

The Bone Library: August 2011, Summerhall, Edinburgh

Histories of the Perplexed: April 2011, Stag Studios, Edinburgh

Macpherson’s Cave: Shadow and Enlightenment: August-September 2010, The Henderson Gallery, Edinburgh

The Modern Agoge: The Edinburgh Academy, June 2009

John Watson Prize 2008: Robert Powell: November 2008–February 2009, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Lectures on the Shadow: September 2008, The Henderson Gallery, Edinburgh


More Than Bird: August 2012, Tent Gallery, Edinburgh