Farmyard Construction with Profile 1984 signed 'William Robinson' lower left oil on linen 66.0 x 96.9cm (26 x 38 1/8in).
PROVENANCE Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane Private collection, Brisbane
EXHIBITED William Robinson: Paintings, Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane, 28 September - 18 October 1984 William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape, Queensland University Art Museum, Brisbane, 17 April - 14 August 2011
LITERATURE Desmond MacAulay and Bettina MacAulay, William Robinson: The Transfigured Landscape, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane and Piper Press, Sydney, 2011, pg. 185 (illus.)
The process of self-discovery and the interpretation of his relationship with nature are intertwined as the driving forces behind William Robinson's art. To one of Australia's most significant contemporary landscape painters, creating art is not only an important form of expression and sensory experience, but a means of responding to the world around him. From 1970, when Robinson moved with his family from suburban Coorparoo in Brisbane, to Birkdale, in the semi-rural outskirts of the city, there was a gradual shift in the subject matter he depicted. Slowly, the subjects of interiors and still-lifes were replaced with those which inspired him in his new, immediate rural environment cows, hens, roosters and goats. These animals and the farmyard scenes in which they were situated developed into one of Robinson's most distinct and popular themes.
Talking from a personal perspective about his work, Robinson says, 'I think one of the hardest things for a painter is to paint real life, to paint real experiences, real sensations that come to you and not sensations that come to you through other people's art or something like that but, the real things. When I first painted my chookyards in 1979 and cows in 1980, I knew that other people had painted cows...my farm constructions were of my own invention, and a direct response to my state of life and place of living.'
In 1984, the Robinson family relocated to a property situated in the Gold Coast hinterland, where the landscape and farm animals continued to inspire the artist's imagination. In this year, Farmyard Construction with Profile was produced and depicts many of the hallmarks of Robinson's classic farmyard construction scenes the contrasting behaviour of playful roosters and hens near and far, inquisitiveness of goats and of docile cows, peering around corrugated iron structures Robinson's animals are given no preferential treatment in their placement or portrayal. In all their activity, the animals seem almost oblivious to the man who stands quietly observing them. Visible occasionally in other Farmyard Construction paintings, is the image of the artist, which appears here in the upper left-hand section of the work. Only the profile of Robinson's head and torso can be seen, but in situating himself in the composition, the artist allows the viewer to observe the significance of his involvement in the daily activities on the farm.
William Robinson's work is held at the National Gallery of Australia, state and regional gallery collections across the country, and internationally at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and at several major galleries in New Zealand. His work is also part of many private and corporate collections within Australian and abroad. In addition to these achievements, Robinson has been the recipient of a number of prestigious art awards, including the Archibald Prize for portraiture in 1987 and 1995 as well as the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1990 and 1996. More recently, in 2007, Stephen Rainbird noted that rightfully, '...William Robinson was awarded an AO for service as one of Australia's most distinguished landscape artists, for support and philanthropy to Australian art and for the encouragement and education of young emerging artists.'
1 Seear, Lynne. (2001) Darkness and Light: The Art of William Robinson, Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery, p 69.
2 Rainbird, Stephen. (2007) William Robinson: Paintings and Lithographs 2000-2007, Collingwood, Victoria: Australian Galleries, p 3