On Thursday August 10 from 6-8PM EXCAVO is pleased to open Halina Robinson’s ‘LIFE/FORMS’ at Satellite Project Space. This exhibition celebrates the life of Halina Robinson (1927-2021) who left a vast trove of work, meticulously archived and framed, that was discovered in her home following her death at the age of 94. Halina invented a mystical aesthetic language deeply imbued with personal narrative rooted in scientific discovery, understanding nature, human emotion and the spiritual forces behind life on earth. In an interview with Florencia de Lasa, of her goals in life as an artist, Halina stated that she wished for her work to ‘outlive her.’
Halina Maria Czajkowska Robinson (1927-2021), was the daughter of a Polish military officer. After fleeing Zamosc for Warsaw in late 1940, she attended an underground school and later witnessed the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. She and her mother were arrested during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944, transported to Auschwitz, and from there deported to the Nazi concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen. After the liberation of Bergen-Belsen in 1945, they were sent as displaced persons to Sweden where Halina studied and became a chemical engineer, graduating in 1950, joining a cancer research lab at the Nobel-Karolinska Institute, The Nobel Assembly responsible for selecting the Nobel Prize laureates in physiology or medicine, where she learned histochemical and biochemical techniques.
Halina immigrated to Canada in April 1951 and sponsored her parents to join her in London where she was a research scientist at the Collip Cancer Research Laboratory at The University of Western Ontario (UWO) and the Pediatric Research Laboratory at Victoria Hospital, London. It was at the Collip Laboratory that Halina made crucial observations regarding plant extracts that led to the discovery of the first vinca alkaloid as a cure for childhood leukemia for which she was recently honoured at Queen’s University School of Medicine and is still used for treating cancer today. It was also at the lab that Halina met her husband, Dr. James Russell Robinson, the first Ph.D of the Chemistry Department at UWO. During retirement, Halina put her energy towards watercolour painting, printmaking and sculpture, working under the direction of Dr. Clare Bice and volunteering at Museum London. She was also a lifelong learner, taking courses in Art History at UWO.
100% of proceeds from works sold will be split equally and donated to Robinson Western Libraries Textbook and Materials Acquisition Fund and Our Lady of Czestochowa Church. Copies of Halina’s Biography, ‘Heaven, Hell and Purgatory: A Canadian Memoir of a Happy Polish Childhood, Nazi Horror, and Swedish Refuge,’ edited by Jacalyn Duffin will be available at the gallery and ONLINE.