Obituary: Dom Basil Robinson

Alan Heath Robinson, monk, poet and sculptor, born Hatch End Middlesex 27 October 1909, entered Prinknash Abbey 1932 with the religious name Basil, professed a monk 1934, ordained priest in 1940, died Colwyn Bay 20 July 1992.

DOM BASIL ROBINSON, a monk, poet and artist, was one of the pioneers of the pottery at Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire, and was known for his work in sculpture and stained glass.

He was born Alan Heath Robinson in 1909, the third of the five children of the celebrated artist and cartoonist William Heath Robinson. After studies at the Royal College of Art, he entered Prinknash Abbey in 1932, received the religious name Basil, was professed a monk in 1934 and ordained priest in 1940.

At Prinknash, he invested long hours and great energy in making the pottery a success. In the early Fifties, he was appointed Prior of St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, Hampshire, and in 1958 came to Pluscarden Abbey, Elgin, which was then similarly a dependent foundation of Prinknash, and where conditions were fairly primitive.

As a result of ill-health, he spent five years in England, where he made a name for himself as a preacher on behalf of the Catholic Truth Society, before returning to Pluscarden in 1974, where he was able to resume artistic activities on a larger scale. These included a set of a dozen stained-glass windows for the Baptistery at St Mark's, Edinburgh, and sculptures sacred and secular, in wood, stone and glass-fibre, ranging from abstracts to over life-size figures. Invited to North Wales to carve stone sculptures for Garthewin, he completed these works, and stayed on as chaplain to the Benedictine nuns of Talacre Abbey, and was able to combine this with artistic and apostolic activity.

After the nuns moved to Curzon Park, Chester, he took up residence in the parish of St Winefride's, Holywell, where he became a well-known figure, continuing his various works. Last year it was discovered that he had been suffering from leukaemia for several years, and a stay in hospital was necessary, after which he moved to the Mercy Sisters at Colwyn Bay for convalescence. There he remained, an active and lively member of the community, until his death.

To sum up a monastic life of 60 years is not easy, when it has been as mouvementee as Fr Basil's. St Benedict advises that a potential monk's vocation be measured against certain criteria, which are acid tests of a vocation. He must display zeal in obedience, and Fr Basil was certainly meticulous in seeking permission for his various requests and projects. Humiliations are another of the hard and rugged ways that lead to God, and he suffered these in plenty. They were by no means artificial, and arose from such circumstances as his illnesses and the demands and responsibilities placed upon him.

In community he was always very willing to perform those essential, unspectacular and by no means popular minor tasks, which others prefer to avoid. Such a willing horse is a pearl beyond price. The Work of God, as St Benedict calls the liturgy, must come first in a monk's life and, here again, Fr Basil was never behind-hand, always one of the first in choir for vigils, to be relied upon to make a generous vocal contribution. In short he truly sought God, and to remain stable in persevering in that quest over 60 years is no light thing.

He retained a fresh and open outlook, espousing the charismatic movement and the Focolare (whose magazine New City published some of his large output of poetry); for him the generation gap did not exist. Energetic, friendly, humorous, loving, committed to his God, his communities, his family and friends, he had a wide circle, with which he corresponded faithfully, if illegibly.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

HR Advisor - North London / North West London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor - North London...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album