William "Will" Robson (born October, 1946), sculptor and mosaic artist, living in Nottingham, England.
Will was born in Bradford, United Kingdom in 1946. He was educated at Eccleshill Secondary Modern School, Bradford, before going on to Bradford College of Art in 1963. While a student at Bradford College, he was taught and influenced by the artist, Trevor Bell. In 1965 Will attended Maidstone College of Art in Kent. While studying at Maidstone College, he came under the tutelage of Roland Piche and David Hall. Will graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Sculpture in 1968. He married Margaret and worked and lived in Lothersdale, Yorkshire before moving to Jamaica in 1983. In 2001 he married Jazz and relocated to Nottingham, England
Will is known for his geometric designs, which are heavily influenced by Islamic Art and mandalas. His colours are saturated, due to his extended stay in the West Indies. He has collaborated with various artists and interior designers for varied projects over the years.
During the 1970s Will became a partner in Magic Toys UK, the other partners being Margaret Robson, Diane Collett and Peter Watson. Magic Toys was a craft workshop at Harrow Ings in Lothersdale, Yorkshire which produced a range of Victorian jumping jacks and wooden puppets. In addition to this, Will specialised in highly colourful geometric jigsaw puzzles. The quartet were members of the British Toymakers Guild for several years and in 1980 they were awarded the Toymakers Guild Toy of The Year of Award for their range of toys and puzzles.
In 1983, Will and Margaret migrated to Jamaica and established Magic Toys Jamaica Ltd at Sunny Lodge, Walderston. With a newly trained local workforce they initially produced mosaic craft items for the tourist trade and exported a range of tropical themed pins and puzzles to the UK and the USA. Buoyed by the success of the toy making business, Will started to produce mosaic murals and room pieces for hotels in Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Major projects and commissions included:
Jamaica Pavilion Expo92 in Seville, Spain. Architect Michael Lake. (Jamaica).
Will Robson was one of the artists, along with Margaret Robson and Umbala, selected by Michael Lake to illustrate the backdrop for the visitors to the Jamaican pavilion at Seville Expo '92 which coincided with the celebration of Christopher Columbus' Quincentennial. The scale of the work was such that it had to be shipped over to Spain in five forty foot containers. At the end of the expo the interior of the pavilion was bought by John Rollins to install in Ritz Carlton Hotel Montego Bay, October, 1992.
Sandals Resorts Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Evan Williams, architect and Katrina Marzouca interior designer from Design Collaborative International (DCI), Kingston.
Projects done with them include; Mural at Grand Lido Negril with the lead artist Tukula Ntama. This was Magic Toys first mural. Its dimensions were 10mts x2mts, marking a departure from Will's smaller mosaic puzzles. The piece was a mixed media mosaic showing life in the Jamaican mountains and by the seashore.
Beaches Resort, Negril; Magic Toys did the children's activity centre, and the accompanying mural was done in collaboration with the lead artist Tukula Ntama. After this, more work followed, with a floral mural at Sandals Royal Caribbean with artist Margaret Robson. On the heels of that project, there was more work at Sandals Grande Ocho Rios with Magic Toys and Margaret Robson. Sandals also commissioned similar artworks for their resorts in St Lucia and Antigua this included floral mosaic fretwork wall pieces.
Individual Hotel Projects; Wanda Stephenson interior designer
After the success of Expo'92, Will got work with Wanda Stephenson (d. 2007), and for the next nine years they did various decorative projects together. These included (but are not limited to) the following:
Runaway Bay, Jamaica Heart Hotel: Will and Magic Toys made mosaic inlaid fretwork headboards and mirror frames. These designs incorporated indigenous Jamaican flowers and fruit (example, breadfruit and anthuriums) for fifty six rooms.
Sunset Beach Resort Montego Bay: Mosaic fretwork , done in collaboration with lead artist Margaret Robson. These were figures out of the traditional Jonkonnu parades and used as a backdrop in the hotel's restaurant.
Negril Cabins Mosaic fretwork in hotel lobby and restaurant: This was once again a mosaic fretwork for the hotel's lobby, using birds and flowers indigenous to Jamaica. A couple of years later due to the positive reactions from the client, a similar design was installed in two of their restaurants.
Couples Swept Away Negril, Jane Issa, interior designer and client: Feathers restaurant. Mosaic fretwork in apex of restaurant roof 10 mts x 3 mts. The fretwork heavily influenced by Jamaican foliage, such as Royal Palms and Traveller's Palm trees. This work was done with the collaboration of lead artist, Margaret Robson. Years later, Swept Away commissioned a similar mural for their patio area.
Grand Lido Braco, Architect Clifton Yapp. Mosaic tiles for restaurant: This piece of tile art was geometric, all done in earth colours. This was wooden mosaic which looked like tiles. This project called for approximately one hundred square metres of title on the bases of the self service buffet stations.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Kingston, Paul Chen -Young, client. Mosaic mural depicting scenes of 18th century Kingston in collaboration with lead artist Margaret Robson. 10mts. x 3 mts. in apex of restaurant roof.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (Montego bay), Katherine May interior designer Fretwork for lobster bar: This fretwork (7mts. x 1.5mts.), depicted an underwater scene with coral, lobster, fish and other sea creatures.
Bank of Nova Scotia, Mandeville, Townend and Godfrey main contractors: Painted Mosaic Mural 16mts.x 3mts depicting life and scenery of the Mandeville area of Jamaica. This was done in collaboration with the lead artist Fiona Godfrey.
Appleton Estate Rum Tour, signs and murals, commissioned by Appleton Estate Rum Tour. Will Robson and Magic Toys did several steel handpainted rum bottles as tourist photo opportunities as well as building a life size replica of the Appleton rum label including a 10 mt. x 4 mt steel banner. A mural depicting the story of Jamaican rum was included in the souvenir shop. The project was commissioned by the Appleton Estate Rum Tour and it is still a popular draw all these years later.
Westgate Shopping Centre in Montego Bay: Cosmo Whyte, architect. Fretwork panels were done all around the plaza, at various key points. The panels were all triangular shaped; the two at the entrance to the plaza depicted scenes from Jamaica's history of the Samuel Sharpe rebellion,(designed by Margaret Robson) showing events of before, during and after. At the base they each measured 7 mts, and their apex was 3 mts high. The panels inside the plaza itself, (designed by Will Robson) detailed stylised sugar cane fields, setting suns in the West, birds in flight, and tops of trees. The largest of the panels had a 14 mts base, and the apex of 4 mtrs. All built by the Magic Toy Crew in Walderston.
The Magic Toy Crew; Nerma (Jean) Robinson, Jennifer Davis, Joan Rudd, Sophie (Lorraine) Robinson, Lennox Robinson, Winston (Sam) Robertson, Robert (Robin) Jones, Peter Folkes, Mark Channer, Waderoy (Steely) Folkes, Paul Johnson, Ernest Mckenzie, Paulette Mckenzie, Maxine Farquarson, Sonia Simmonds, Veronica Swaby, Denise Daye and Beverley,
Other projects included; Super-Plus Centre, Mandeville, (artist Margaret Robson) market scene mosaic mural. Alpart , Jamaica cafeteria (artist Will and MT crew) flora and fauna painted fretwork mural. Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston,(artist Will and MT crew) horse racing fretwork mural. Grace Kennedy building, Kingston (artist Margaret Robson) shipping mural. Akbar Restaurant, Montego Bay, fretwork with artist Dawn Scott (d. 2010)
Nottingham workshop 2001- present
After relocating and re establishing himself in England, Will started to do non commissioned work with a range of mosaic murals and aluminium fret-worked mirror frames.
His work is influenced by illuminated manuscripts, stained glass windows, Christian mosaics, the art of Islam,meditative mandalas and mosaic meteorites.