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Robin Dowell

Non-contact – Robin Dowell

This July we welcome back Back Lane West associate artist Robin Dowell. His residency is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund.

As a lecturer teaching online throughout lockdown, Robin like so many of us experienced a melding of work and domestic spaces. So it was perhaps inevitable that the daily space he carved out for his practice became the lockdown ritual of one hour’s exercise, which he used to explore as many unfamiliar bridleways as possible on his bike. Over time he began to see more and more discarded latex gloves on the roads and verges he cycled. Although resentful of the thoughtless littering and repulsed by their implied potential to infect, he found himself drawn to the potential narratives surrounding their unknown owners (who are they? What heroic acts may they have just done?). These encounters will inform a new print project Non-contact.

Robin also intends to spend some of his time reviewing two of his recent projects through a post-Covid lens; Free Walk a 2018 zine made in response to a concern about the use of personal data online, made newly relevant by the development of tracking apps; and Official Secrets, an on-going collaborative project with William Arnold which draws on their mutual fascination with the secretive MOD site at Nancekuke, an early iteration of which was shared at Back Lane West in January 2019.


The majority of Robin Dowell’s work originates in journeys on foot, and the searches and consequent discoveries made therein; artefact or memory, waymarker or narrative. The transformation from routine to prosaic ritual is reflected in the elevation of vernacular materials. Recurrent themes are finding or gathering, chance and choice, and location or disorientation.

Awarded the 2017 Inland Art Festival Residency Prize, he produced a project entitled Static Island, at Back Lane West, documentation of which can be seen on his dedicated blog. Robin has also been selected as Axisweb’s Artist of the Month, developed and delivered a series of field trips for Groundwork, and has recently become an editorial assistant for Idoine Collective after meeting them during their 2018 residency at Back Lane West.

To find out more about Robin’s work please visit:


follow him on Instagram