Hand coloured wood block, 44.2 x 43.8cm
Ipswich Art Gallery Collection, 2013
William Robinson was born in 1936 and studied art in Brisbane. He taught art for many years and continued to paint regularly. The French painter Bonnard had a major influence on his work, which is evident in Robinson’s spatial inventiveness, brilliant use of colour, and ability to imbue everyday objects or scenes with a deeper significance. Robinson’s early paintings depicted domestic interiors but after moving to a farm in Birkdale in the early 1970s, the farmyard creatures he acquired inspired a new body of work. Chookyard is from this period and it captures the comedy, chaos, colour and individual characters of the chookyard. However, Chookyard is also a beautiful composition that reveals the unique mesmeric rhythm and the use of multiple viewpoints that Robinson has become famous for in his later landscapes. Chookyard was entered into the inaugural City of Ipswich Acquisitive Art Competition in 1982 and, as one of the winners, became part of the city’s art collection. Shortly after this, Robinson’s work achieved national acclaim and he is now ranked highly amongst Australian landscape artists. He has had a major retrospective exhibition at the Queensland Art Gallery and his work is represented in the collections of state and national galleries. Robinson has also won 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. In June of 2007, Robinson was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Queen’s Honours List for his service as one of the country’s most distinguished landscape artists.
Ipswich artist Davida Allen was born in Charleville, Queensland in 1951 and studied art in Brisbane. Betty and Roy Churcher were influential teachers and encouraged Allen to develop what was to become her distinctive expressionistic style. Allen was inspired by Expressionist painters, such as Emil Nolde, and the Fauves, a group of artists led by Henri Matisse whose works were characterised by brilliant color, expressive brushwork and a kind of primitive wildness. These influences are evident in Allen’s use of dark jagged forms, floating figures, truncated limbs and a paint surface so thick in parts that it is almost sculptural. My father-in-law hosing his celtis trees is a portrait of Ipswich doctor John Shera. It won the prestigious Archibald Prize for portraiture in 1986 but is far removed from formal or traditional portraiture of distinguished figures. In Allen’s portrait, her father-in-law is wearing shorts and is depicted as an old man who appears vulnerable and exposed but glares at the viewer in a confronting manner. Allen describes the process of creating paintings as torturous, as being ‘like giving birth’, and this painting’s surface was actually beaten with branches from John Shera’s garden. Stylistically Allen’s work reflects the painting process and it also reveals the influences of her catholic education and ongoing interest in the grand themes of birth, life and death.