Brian Robinson

Brian Robinson is a multi-skilled contemporary artist, whose practice includes painting, printmaking, sculpture and design. The graphic style in his practice combines his Torres Strait Islander heritage with a strong passion for experimentation, both in theoretical approach and medium, as well as a crossing of the boundaries between reality and fantasy. The results combine styles as diverse as graffiti art through to intricate relief carvings and construction sculpture echoing images of Torres Strait cultural motifs, objects and activity. Robinson’s art reflects the tropical marine environment surrounding Waiben (Thursday Island) and the inhabitants of that environment. It is an essential part of his life and culture, imbued with the customs, traditions and lifestyles of Torres Strait Island people. The animals from ancestral stories and their presence today are an integral feature of Robinson’s work.
Robinson’s sculptural practice stems from the discipline of constructivism, a style of sculpture that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s based on carefully structured modules that allow for intricate, and in some cases infinite, patterns of repetition, sometimes used to create limitless, basically planar, screen-like formations, and sometimes employed to make more multi-dimensional structures. Surface treatments for Robinson’s sculptural works have included coconut-leaf matting, split bamboo, cowrie shells, feathers, lace, photographic prints and linocuts on paper.
His approach to printmaking in both etching and linocut is linear in composition and appearance. These prints illustrate Robinson’s depth of connection to heritage paired with his aesthetic and intellectual exploration of Western art iconography in relation and connection to Torres Strait culture.
Robinson’s work has contributed significantly to the environs of Cairns, his home for two decades, through a number of major public art installations including the signature five stainless steel woven fish sculptures and fountain installed on the Cairns Esplanade in 2003. His work has been widely collected both privately and through major institutions both in Australia and overseas. From September 2010 Robinson undertook a 12-month Artist in Residence at Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking Studio located in Cairns, developing an impressive body of new works in etching and linocut.

Collections
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra ACT
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Surfers Paradise QLD
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane QLD
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea NEW CALEDONIA
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne VIC
OTC Collection, Australia
Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney NSW
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia USA
Environmental Protection Agency, Cairns QLD
KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns QLD

Individual Exhibitions
2000 Malu Girel Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns QLD
2003 Oceanic Navigator Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns QLD
2006 Habitis Habitat KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns
QLD
2007 Brian Robinson MacDonnells Law, Cairns QLD
2008 Northern Mythology: The Art of Brian Robinson, Banggu
Minjaany Gallery, Cairns
2009 The Shape of Things KickArts Contemporary Arts,
Cairns QLD
Group Exhibitions
1994 From Papunya to Now Berlin, GERMANY
1995 Pacific Dreams Perc Tucker Gallery, Townsville [Artist
in Residence]
1996 Ancient Land, Modern Art Queensland Art Gallery,
Brisbane [National tour until 1998]
1996 Art Ou Artifice Torres Strait Art Noumea, NEW
CALEDONIA [Artist in Residence]
1998 Raiki Wara [Long Cloth] National Gallery of Victoria,
Melbourne [National tour until 2000]
1998 Ilan Pasin: Torres Strait Art Cairns Regional Gallery,
Cairns QLD [National tour until 2001]
2000 Inland Island Object Galleries, Sydney NSW
2000 Islands in the Sun National Gallery of Australia,
Canberra ACT [National tour until 2003]
2004 Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
Award MAGNT, Darwin NT [National tour until 2005]
2004 Out of Country, QIAMEA, Washington DC, Virginia USA
2006 Habitus Habitat, KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns
QLD
2006 Gatherings ll Gab Tutui Cultural Centre, Thursday Island
QLD
2007 Maritime Stories, TANKS Art Centre, Cairns QLD
2007 Far North Queensland Printmakers, Baboa Gallery,
Brisbane QLD
2007 Ailan Currents: Contemporary printmaking from the
Torres Strait, KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns QLD
2008 On the Edge, Tanks Arts Centre, Cairns QLD
2010 Malu Minar (Sea Pattern) Art of the Torres Strait, Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia
2011 Malu Minar (Sea Pattern) Art of the Torres Strait, Southland Museum and Gallery, Invercargill NZ
2011 Malu Minar (Sea Pattern) Art of the Torres Strait, Cairns Regional Gallery, Cairns
2012 Malu Minar (Sea Pattern) Art of the Torres Strait, Pataka Museum and Gallery, Porirua City, NZ
2012 Malu Minar (Sea Pattern) Art of the Torres Strait, The Suter Te Aratoi o Whakatu Art Gallery Nelson, NZ
2013 Malu Minar (Sea Pattern) Art of the Torres Strait, Te Manawa Art Gallery, Palmerston North, NZ
2013 Western Australian Indigenous Art Award, Art Gallery of WA, Perth

Awards
1997 Professional Development Grant, Museums Australia 1998 New Work Grant, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Arts Board Australia Council
1999 Ten Queensland, Young Achiever of the Year for
Regional Queensland 2000, Townsville
1999 Golden Circle Arts Finalist, Young Australian of the Year
2000, Brisbane
2001 Arts and Culture Recognition Award, Cairns Corroboree,
Cairns
2003 Skills and Arts Development Grant, Australia Council for
the Arts
2013 Winner, Western Australian Indigenous Art Award, Art Gallery of WA, Perth

Commissions
1995 Cairns and District ATSI Co-op for Women Corporate
Logo, Cairns
1997 FNQ ATSI Womens Corporation Corporate Logo,
Cairns
1998 UQ, Centre for Indigenous Research Corporate Logo,
Brisbane
1998 Passenger Ferry design and co-ordination Sunstate
Airlines, IBIS, Torres Strait Travel, Cairns
1999 Sculpture Peninsula Boutique Hotel, Foyer Artwork, Port
Douglas
1999 Oceanic pods Cairns Convention Centre, Stage 2 [6]
sculptural forms, Cairns
2002 Spinning top Cairns City Council, Shield Street Upgrade,
Cairns
2002 Taba Naba Norem ll Sculptured artwork, Art
Coordinates, Perth
2003 Bronze plaques Cairns City Council, Cairns Esplanade
Project [8] plaques, Cairns
2003 Woven fish Cairns City Council, Cairns Esplanade
Project [5] stainless steel fish sculptures with fountain,
Cairns
2004 Waterfall sculptures [5] stingray forms with waterfall
component and lighting, Residential Complex, Cairns
2006 Great Walks: Art and Environment Public Art Project,
EPA/PowerLink, Cairns
Bibliography
2000 Contemporary Torres Strait Art [essay] Oxford
Companion to Aboriginal Art and Culture, Oxford Press
and Centre for Cross-Cultural Research [ANU]
2001 Motif Etching: The History of Ilan Printmaking [essay]
Island in the Sun exhibition catalogue, National Gallery of
Australia
2001 Torres Strait Printmaking [paper] 4th Australian Print
Symposium, Canberra
2001 Ilan Pasin in Review [essay] Pacific Arts Journal,
University of Hawaii
2002 Taking up the Curatorial Challenge [paper] Tasmanian
Talkabout Forum, Launceston
2003 Banggu Minjaany: 20 Years of Contemporary
Indigenous Visual Art [essay] exhibition catalogue
2006 Unreal Shields [introduction] exhibition Catalogue
2007 Ailan Currents: Contemporary Printmaking from the
Torres Strait [essay] exhibition catalogue
1998 – 2012 Art Dekko, Cairns Regional Gallery’s quarterly
magazine

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