Thursday Island, Torres Strait
Born 1973, Waiben, Queensland (Torres Strait)
Lives and works in Cairns, Queensland
Brian Robinson was born in 1973 and grew up in the idyllic tropical surroundings of the Torres Strait Islands, located between the tip of Cape York Peninsula and Papua New Guinea. During this time he gained valuable knowledge and appreciation of the culture of his people and was particularly influenced by the myths and legends of the Torres Strait, and the traditional motifs and natural carving ability of the Islanders.
Now based in Cairns, he commenced work with Cairns Regional Gallery in 1997 as a trainee curator through the Museums Australia Curatorial Internship program, the first Torres Strait Islander to be appointed through that program. This internship resulted in a major achievement: the co-curating and tour management of Ilan Pasin: Torres Strait Art, the first major touring exhibition and catalogue of the traditional and contemporary material culture of the Torres Strait Islander people. Since then, he has worked on numerous exhibitions, both locally, across Queensland and nationally.
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 crossing 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.
His growing stature both as an artist, curator and as a highly informed representative of his people saw him appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Queensland Art Gallery in 1999 as its youngest member and the first Torres Strait Islander on the governing body of Queensland's premier visual arts organisation. In 2000, he was appointed by then- Queensland Premier Peter Beattie to the Indigenous Reference Panel, which over-sighted the production of the first Gatherings book and exhibition and presented government with a report into the further development of the Queensland Indigenous art industry – a report that was largely adopted with strong support from the Premier.
In 2004, Robinson completed internships with both the National Museum of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia and has since collaborated on an exhibition with the Museum developed specifically for their Gallery for First Australians. Until August 2010 he was Exhibitions Manager and Deputy Director of Cairns Regional Gallery and, despite the demands of these positions, he continued to develop a strong arts practice. Robinson left the Gallery to concentrate on his art practice full-time, commencing with a 12-month Artist Residency at Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking Studio, Cairns.
Robinson's work has contributed significantly to the environs of Cairns 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 in Australia and overseas.
Australian Museum, Sydney, NSW
Australian War Museum Canberra, ACT
QUT Art Museum Collection, Brisbane, QLD
Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, NSW
Cairns Regional Gallery, QLD
Charles Darwin University Art Collection, Darwin, NT
Environmental Protection Agency, Cairns Office, QLD
Geelong Gallery, VIC
Gold Coast City Art Gallery, QLD
Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia
KickArts Contemporary Arts, Cairns, QLD
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin
Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, The Netherlands
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ACT
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, VIC
OTC Collection, Australia
Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLD
Queensland University of Technology Art Museum Collection Brisbane
The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, Virginia, USA