Keyword: palliative

Healing thumb


Robert occasionally reworks earlier motifs into his “Illness & Healing” series. Here he uses the wharf setting, which was such a notable feature of his “Accident” series. In that series, the wharf was a site of mystery, a bridge between

Friend with guitar and patient thumb

Friend with guitar and patient

Guitars come out at a party or around a campfire; it’s a little startling to see one in a hospital. So when it happens, there’s a sense that the clinical austerity has been breached and friendship prevails. Robert had great

Chemotherapy and Christ thumb

Chemotherapy and Christ

Psychologist George Bonanno uses the term “resilient” to describe people who are able to maintain a sense of core purpose, meaning and forward momentum in the face of a traumatic set-back, such as getting cancer. Purpose and belief can come

Lifeline (Intravenous solution and ocean) thumb

Lifeline (Intravenous solution and ocean)

In a sketchbook,  Robert notes: “Blood is a simultaneous symbol of birth, life and death. Water operates the same way; a life-giving substance that one can drown in.” Robert often used parallels and contrasts in his work. Here he contrasts an apparatus of modern

White Rose thumb

White Rose

Robert’s last paintings were small studies of flowers. While the rose is simplified, the dramatic lighting gives it a monumental presence as it emerges from the dark background. Flowers are fragile but beautiful symbols of love that awaken the senses. They are often

New Steps, Tall Version (Graphic) thumb

New Steps, Tall Version (Graphic)

Robert made his figures appear like thin tottering giants, stretching out the more realistic and earthy torsos from his earlier version. The addition of two small doors on either side of the group enhance the sense of scale. The corridor walls have also been squeezed

Stages of Dying thumb

Stages of Dying

Robert used his sketchbooks to generate ideas for paintings. His ideas came from different sources. Here he makes notes from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book, On Death and Dying. Kubler-Ross’s notion that patients and their families pass through 5 stages of dying

Vision thumb


This image can be read on two levels. On a realist level, a church choir visits a patient who reaches across his hospital bed toward them. On a more fantastic level, a patient, nearing death or at a pivotal moment

New Steps thumb

New Steps

Nurses, like angels, assist a patient, weakened from a long convalescence or possibly a stroke, to get back on his feet. It looks as though a grown man is relearning to walk. This is the start of a journey back to

Hug thumb


Compare this image to Robert’s earlier series about lovers, “A Seal Upon Thine Heart.” In the earlier series, there is a strong feeling of compulsion, bewilderment, loss of control, even at times a feeling of antagonism, as if a battle