BRIAN ROBINSON | 'Woven ware - Boi' | Etching

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Etching printed from one plate
Edition of 30, 2010
Published by Djumbunji Press KickArts Fine Art Printmaking
Matrix size: 495 x 990 mm
Paper size: 800 x 1205 mm
Paper: Hahnemuhle 300gsm warm white
Ink: Charbonnell
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: Preparation of weaving materials, and weaving itself, was designated as women's work. Torres Strait Island women produced a great variety of purpose designed woven ware, of both temporary and permanent natures, depending on the function. To carry vegetables from the garden, women might pull a branch from a nearby coconut palm and weave an instant basket. This would be discarded immediately after use, or in a few days, when the drying leaves made it unserviceable.