Brian Robinson, Woven fish I

Brian Robinson, Woven fish I


Dry Point printed in two colours from one plate
Edition of 5, 2010
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Image size: 125 x 180 mm
Paper size: 325 x 375 mm
Paper: Hahnemuhle warm white
Ink: Charbonnel
Collaborative printer: Dian Darmansjah
Editioning printer: Hannah Parker

Artist: Brian Robinson
Language: Kala lagaw ya


Artist bio: 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.

Artwork story: In island communities where coconut palms grow, small decorative objects are plaited from fresh leaf. They are usually created for amusement or as children's playthings. However, on festive occasions they appear in great diversity, suspended from buildings and trees by leaf mid-ribs, as well as decorating food tables. This form of plaited decoration is commonly made throughout Oceania, and was introduced into Torres Strait by South Sea Islanders. Invariably, they are inspired by the natural environment. Hand-woven decorations are quickly made and just as soon discarded when they dry and lose their shape and vibrant colour. Permanent examples are occasionally made from cured pandanus leaf but more recently, durable and contemporary examples are being constructed from brightly coloured strapping tape.