Meeting Carl Roberts

Carl Roberts
01 Jan 2006

Publication focuses on the work and life of one of South Africa’s most innovative sculptors. (Review by Caroline Smart)Written by Neil Wright and published in 2006 by Wright Publishing, Meeting Carl Robertsfocuses on the work and life of one of South Africa’s most innovative sculptors who has received both national and international acclaim. 


Working in wood or bone, Carl Roberts allows his material to dictate its future. “I seldom have preconceived ideas; the material suggests images,” he states in the book. “The image chosen depends upon what lies in the subconscious, elements of chance and the spirit of the times.”

In this interesting, well-laid-out and high quality soft-cover publication, Neil Wright draws on the professional relationship he has built up with Roberts over the years in which he and his wife Liesel have worked with him through their Bonisa Gallery in Kloof and their successful international arts business. Apart from offering fascinating details of various works, the book contains contributions from Liesel Wright and sculptor Jeanne Wright. The latter attended Rhodes University art school with Carl Roberts and offers a chapter on the academic side of the sculptor’s work.

Carl Roberts’ life makes for interesting reading, particularly the question and answer section at the end. Having been born in Bristol UK in 1957, he came to South Africa at the age of six months with his mother Jenny and sister Anya after his father was killed in a flying accident. In his early years, the family lived in various areas of Southern Africa as his mother remarried, lost her second husband to cancer and then married again several times.

From childhood Carl had modelled with clay, becoming more adventurous as he got older, creating items out of leather and then carving or painting pictures. After he finished school, he entered into a variety of occupations – fireman, assistant manager on a dairy farm and a truck driver driving 18-wheelers long distance for SA Railways & Harbours. With no matric, his application to enrol for a degree in journalism at Rhodes University was turned down but he challenged this so vigorously that he won through...Click to continue reading