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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

William Robinson

William Robinson was born in 1936 in suburban Brisbane and as a young man was interested in both art and music. He was a state finalist in the 1957 ABC Concerto and Vocal Competition, where he played the piano with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Although Robinson recognised painting as his vocation at an early age, music has remained an important part of his life. He plays the piano every day and listens to music in his studio while he works – these are integral to his painting practice.

In 1954 Robinson trained as a primary school teacher at the Queensland Teachers' College. He was subsequently awarded a scholarship to the Central Technical College, where he studied art from 1955 to 1956. After graduating Robinson began what was to become a long career as an art instructor, teaching at the Central Technical College (1957–62), Kedron Park Teaching College (1963–69), Kelvin Grove Teachers’ College (1970–75), Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education, Toowoomba (1975) and North Brisbane College of Advanced Education (1976–82). Robinson was head of the Painting Department the Brisbane College of Advanced Education (now Queensland University of Technology) from 1982 until 1989, when he retired from teaching to concentrate completely on his painting.

Although he had held individual exhibitions from 1967, Robinson’s work first came to national prominence in the 1980s when several of his works were selected for inclusion in ‘Australian Perspecta’ in 1983 and ‘The Sixth Biennale of Sydney’ in 1986. In 1987, several of his works were purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. His work is also represented in the National Gallery of Australia, most Australian State collections, as well as many regional collections. Robinson has been the winner of several prestigious art awards, including the Archibald Prize for portraiture in 1987 and 1995, and the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1990 and 1996.

William Robinson has always drawn on elements from his immediate surroundings for his subject matter. Throughout his artistic career, his stylistic development has correlated with shifts from one home environment to another. From a small suburban farm at Birkdale, to the Gold Coast hinterland rainforest, to the beachside town of Kingscliff, Robinson has continued to depict his own ‘backyard’. Recently the Robinsons built a new home in the Brisbane suburbs near Moreton Bay, and the artist now divides his time between his three studios.

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