An interview with Artist Rob Peveril: “Life isn’t sequential. Things don’t happen to the same people in numbers, its circular.”

Here is an interview conducted with Artist and ROAR member Robert Peveril earlier this year. Unfortunately Robert passed away last week, so this piece holds more gravitas then I could have imagined. I am so glad he gave me the time to delve into his life and work; in his humble way he told me he was “honoured” to be asked.

A conversation with Robert gives great insight into a fascinating mind, and in turn a better understanding of his work which he describes as “marmite, either people love it or hate it.”

His art is an amalgamation of different mediums, threaded with his past life experiences and his distinct belief system; he classifies himself as a “warlock”. I tried to piece all these together over a conversation in ROAR’s office.

Defining his art as “mixed media collage”, his most recent project has been to create his own set of Tarot cards, an idea which has been a while in the making. As I knew next to nothing about the history of Tarot, Rob told me that the oldest known cards came from Italy in the 13/14th century, he added: “All the noble courts had their own Artist who would do Tarot for them.”

The Tarot are split into two parts, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana (Arcana meaning mystery). Opting to complete The Major Arcana, Rob added a few more cards to his deck which he thought should be included, totalling 41 cards.

He tells me he was always inspired by the Tarot he saw on TV and in films, he originally painted the images on cardboard and then varnished them to make them look medieval. He explained how he sees a lot of film in Tarot and added: “I wove in my own mythology and invented my own mythos from the original Tarot imagery.” He explains how The Hermaxituse faith most strongly connects with his own beliefs, with its 5 elements threaded into his artwork: Gold (Earth), Green Aether (Air), Lightning (Fire), Mercury (Water) and Un-Time (Dimensional).

All of the 41 images are individual pieces of art, now digitalised with the help of ROAR and downsized into traditional Tarot card size. He would like to sell the originals as prints or posters.

Rob tells me that the Tarot represents the journey between life and death and traditionally has focused on the man’s life. Rob chose to look at the life of the woman, his creation thus taking a feminist stance: “the Goddess is very important in witchcraft and is venerated so that was why I tied it all in.” He adds: “I didn’t put numbers on the cards and that is another way in which it is different because life isn’t sequential. Things don’t happen to the same people in numbers, its circular.”

This originality all adds to the uniqueness of the pieces, as does Rob’s artistic style: “I went to York museum and do you know the old Punch magazines? Well the artist who did them used to do big heads and then little bodies and I used to find it grotesque.” He explains, “what once repulsed me I grew to like. All my characters have eyes too big for their face and they are all disproportionate.”

Discussing his journey as an Artist, Rob has fulfilled many different roles in his past including working in a nursing home, modelling (something he still does now as a Life Model at ROAR) and hairdressing, but he has always practised as an artist too.

He has previously exhibited in London which he described as “more smoke and mirrors” and adds “if people think that they are buying something that is good or trendy or in fashion, people will part with hard earned money.” On the other end of the spectrum he exhibited a lot of his work in local pubs and labour clubs in Chesterfield, a place where he lived for many years. He has also had his work published in Silk Milk magazine, an Australian publication distributed world wide.

It was while he was in Chesterfield that Rob started giving readings. He tells me he is a clairvoyant and that Tarot is his preferred medium: “Every Tarot reader works differently. I ask the person to shuffle the cards because it imprints the personality and the character of the person on them. I then ask them to tap the cards three times and then the cards spread.”

On reading the cards he prefers working in the circular, covering present, past and future. He concludes: “I was the Worlds Worst Hairdresser, but I like to think I am a good painter and a good artist. I like to think I am a good psychic.”

Due to the break up of a relationship and falling on difficult times, Rob ended up leaving Chesterfield and eventually came to live with a friend in Rotherham. It was whilst doing some shopping in the town centre that he saw ROAR from the outside and came in to make an appointment, afterwards becoming a member.

“I remember I didn’t come in for a while because I had a lot to sort out. I wanted to make a film but then I thought hang on a minute, you’ve got to concentrate on your Tarot!” After receiving a message from ROAR, Rob started coming in to ROAR regularly.

“And it saved my life. I am not just saying that so you can look good in a magazine. That’s it really.”

This project has been the backdrop to a huge part of his life, a life that has been turbulent; difficulties with his mental and physical health have been prevalent, as has his misfortune in relationships. I ask him whether he has come any closer to figuring out his own life through creating the Tarot: “Well, its funny you ask that. With each picture I did, my life seemed to take on that aspect. It was really weird, I was putting off the dark negative cards or making them prettier to soften the blow.” He concludes: “I am trying still to make sense of my life.”

With the support of ROAR Rob has now written a play to accompany his original Tarot deck. He plans to eventually exhibit all the pieces, whilst giving people readings with his printed deck. The play will also be performed as part of the event.

Please keep up with ROAR for further updates on Rob’s work and upcoming exhibitions: Twitter/Facebook/Instagram @rotherhamroar

Words by Amy Forde

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