Born in South Africa in 1940, Geraldine Robarts has a lifetime of experience as a painter and university lecturer in fine art and education. She has been living in East Africa since 1964.
Her first public exhibition was at Everard Read Gallery in Johannesburg in 1958 at the age of nineteen. Since then, there have been hundreds of exhibitions all round the world. Her work is in demand worldwide and is in many private and institutional collections. She has won several international awards, most recently to design the Africa Hall at Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany.
She works with oil, acrylic and watercolours and experiments in different ways, always pushing the boundaries of what paint, colour, and new materials can achieve. She has developed techniques unique to herself which give paintings considerable depth and soul which she has shared with her students.
For many years, Geraldine was a university lecturer in fine art, first at Makerere University, Kampala and then at Kenyatta University, Nairobi. In the early 1960’s she brought the craft of batik making from Indonesia to Uganda and then to Kenya because the price of paints, brushes, and canvas was then beyond the pocket of local artists.
In 1988/89 she was a Visiting Professor in Art Education at McGill University, Montreal, bringing the Gusii and Inuit tribes together through their art. She collaborated on a book “Stories in Stone” and curated an exhibition of sculptures which travelled through Canada and the USA, establishing the international market for Kisii soapstone.
She is a Baha’i and has been voluntary teacher with grass roots women’s groups in Kenya since 1964. Since 1990 she has helped women’s groups in Kitui, Kenya. She created workshops for making colourful ornamental sisal weaving and wall-hangings. These are still produced and have a market in Nairobi and for export. By offering people the opportunity to have income generating projects she has improved the lives of many people who otherwise were struggling to survive. She has done a lot of work on health improvement by building productive fruit farms and provision of dams across sandy rivers, together with pumped water systems which overcame the pressing need of the village women to spend their lives collecting water and firewood and has transformed the ability of communities to grow sustainably in the long term. The storage of water behind dams has meant the removal of animals and people from sandy riverbeds so that the incidence of malaria and typhoid dropped and the better health from lots of fresh fruit and vegetables meant mothers and children have so much better a chance of doing well.