William Robinson – ‘Love in Life & Art’ at William Robinson Gallery

In News September 6, 2022

Image above: William Robinson  Sunset with riders  1986  oil on linen. Private collection, Brisbane.


An upcoming exhibition of select works by William Robinson at William Robinson Gallery, Brisbane, offers a beautifully poignant insight into the life and legacy of his late wife, Shirley Robinson (née Rees, 1936–2022).

“Revered as one of Australia’s foremost landscape painters, William Robinson is also celebrated for his iconic series of self portraits, two of which were awarded the highly influential Archibald Prize. While Robinson is not widely recognised for depicting the human form in art, one figure is central to his practice and represents the most consistent and prominent subject in his oeuvre: his wife Shirley.

William Robinson  Farmyard 5 (The green chair)  2015  gouache. Private collection, Brisbane.


“Shirley met William at Brisbane’s Central Technical College where they were both students, and they married soon after in 1958. Artworks featuring Shirley appear regularly throughout all decades of Robinson’s output—spanning the interior works of the 1970s, the farmyards of the 1980s, lithographs produced in 1990s and early 2000s, and recent still life paintings.

“However, the significance of these works is not to be found in their sheer numbers nor physical descriptions, but rather in the emotional texture and cadence they lend his art making. In many ways, Shirley provided a faithful ground for Robinson’s work—something as essential to a successful artistic career as the mastering of light and shade, or the ability to render an object within the illusion of three-dimensional space.

William Robinson  Thunderstorm  1986  oil on canvas. Private collection, Brisbane.


Love in Life & Art explores how the domestic and aesthetic are intrinsically linked, and how the figure of Shirley encapsulates essential aspects of Robinson’s vision—tender, private and familial images, everyday life, the importance of shared spiritual connection, and a sense of place or being in the world. These artworks are not only visual meditations on the environment in which William Robinson lives; rather, they pay homage to the broader rhythms of life, nature and love—but, most importantly, to Shirley.”


Love in Life & Art
William Robinson Gallery
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
27 September 2022 – 11 September 2023


William Robinson  The sprig of wattle  2010  oil on linen. Private collection, Brisbane.