Brian Robinson, Woven ware - Balboi

Brian Robinson, Woven ware - Balboi


Etching printed in one colour from one plate
Edition of 30, 2010
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Image size: 495 x 990 mm
Paper size: 800mm x 1205 mm
Paper: Hahnemuhle 300gsm warm white
Ink: Charbonell
Collaborative printer: Elizabeth Hunter
Editioning printer: Elizabeth Hunter

Artist: Brian Robinson
Language: Kala lagaw ya

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: The creation of fibre art has a long history in Indigenous Australia. Their knowledge of the environment throughout the different seasons meant that year round they had an extensive menu of plants from which to choose, both for food and for fibres.

Basketry and plaiting were probably more important to Torres Strait Islanders in a practical sense then any other art form. Textile objects were indispensable to many daily activities as well as rituals and ceremonies. Baskets were made to hold fish and crustaceans, fruit and nuts, severed heads, store produce for trade, for placing food in the ground oven, and to carry personal items during daily activity.