Grace Tobin (b. 1993) graduated with a BA in Visual Arts from Oberlin College and recently completed her MA in Painting from the Royal College of Art in 2022. Tobin has exhibited work in London and internationally in Italy, Shanghai and New York. She was a semi-finalist for the 2022 RBA Rome Scholarship.
Grace Tobin explores our relationships to the environments we inhabit, considering how these connections impact our sense of self. The flux of growing up between two countries impressed upon Tobin how certain spaces can hold powerful feelings of community and kinship. Her practice stems from ideas of space holding personal narrative, documenting the physical and psychological impact such environments have in informing our identity.
Tobin challenges our sense of space through subtracting material and softening edges, presenting a segmented reality, a blurred memory. She depicts scenes with only a suggestion or completely void of the human figure. Seemingly occupied with only a ghostly presence of someone just outside of the frame, Tobin’s work instead focuses our attention on the spaces and objects left behind, providing glimpses into who may have been there, and what stories the place may hold.
Her work reflects on how physical objects can build and hold emotional value, over time embodying histories and identity. By reconstructing intimate domestic environments from her own history and memory, she considers this human instinct of creating semiotic value, or creating meaning, from our surroundings.
The hazy dreamlike colour palette of Tobin’s paintings, paired with the use of pattern, mirrors the themes of imperfection and repetition in our lives and routines. The saturated tinted hues of her works resemble the distorted lenses through which we recall. Grace Tobin’s work exhibits the speculative, contemplative moments in which we are formed, informed, and reminded by our surroundings over time.