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William Robinson | The artist

William Robinson: A life in brief

1936

Born in Brisbane on 16 April, the second of four children to Ada, née Vogt, and Robert Robinson.

1943-49

Family lives in Fairfield, a southern Brisbane riverside suburb. Spends early schooling at Junction Park Primary School at nearby Annerley.

1950-53

Attends Brisbane State High School, South Brisbane. In 1953 sees the exhibition 'French Painting Today' in Brisbane, which leaves a lasting impression.

1954-56

Commences training as a primary school teacher at Queensland Teachers' Training College, Kelvin Grove. In 1955 awarded a two-year scholarship and embarks on an art teacher training course at Brisbane's Central Technical College. In 1956 awarded the College's Godfrey Rivers Memorial Medal for excellence in painting, sculpture, applied art and drawing.

1957-62

Appointed instructor in art at Central Technical College and works part-time towards the art teacher's diploma and diploma in drawing and painting, which he completes in 1962.

1958-59

Marries Shirley Rees, a former commercial art student at Central Technical College. The couple settles in Gaythorne, an inner north-west suburb of Brisbane, and the first of their six children is born in 1959.

1963-69

Commences six-year tenure as an art lecturer at Kedron Park Teachers' College. Family moves to Coorparoo on Brisbane's southside. In 1967 holds first solo exhibition at Design Arts Centre, Brisbane.

1970-71

Family moves to a three-hectare farm at Birkdale on Brisbane's eastern outskirts. Appointed Senior Lecturer in Art at Kelvin Grove Teachers' College (until 1975). In 1971 travels to Sydney to see 'Pierre Bonnard' exhibition, which exerts a strong influence on his art, apparent in his compositions of domestic interiors.

1975

Begins focusing on landscapes of Redland Bay district and Moreton Bay. Moves to Toowoomba for six months to teach at Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education.

1976-77

Starts teaching at North Brisbane College of Advanced Education (until 1981). In 1977 holds first solo exhibition at Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane. The theme of farmyard life becomes main subject matter in his art from the late 1970s.

1982-84

Appointed Senior Lecturer in Art at Brisbane College of Advanced Education (until 1989). In 1984 moves with family to 80-hectare farm at Beechmont in Queensland's Gold Coast hinterland and begins to paint the precipitous landscape of this subtropical rainforest area.

1987-89

Awarded the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Completes first 'Creation' painting in 1988. In 1989 leaves teaching and starts working full-time as an artist.

1990

Awarded the Wynne Prize for landscape. Begins making lithographs. Travels overseas for the first time visiting Greece, England, France, and Italy.

1991-92

The Robinsons' lives are devastated by the loss of two of their children. The artist becomes increasingly introspective and his work more contemplative. In 1992, commences 'Mountain' series, which the artist considers among his finest work.

1994-96

Moves to Kingscliff on the northern New South Wales coast where the changing moods of sea and sky become a primary inspirational focus for his work. Acquires rainforest studio at Springbrook in the adjacent hinterland. In 1995 wins the Archibald Prize for a second time. Travels to Paris where he makes lithographs at Atelier Bordas (makes further prints there in 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2006). In 1996 wins the Wynne Prize again.

1998

Awarded honorary doctorate by his alma mater, Queensland University of Technology.

2001

Returns to live in bayside Brisbane. Holds first solo exhibitions at Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane and Australian Galleries, Melbourne and Sydney. First full-survey exhibition of his work shown at Queensland Art Gallery.

2005

Purchases coastal retreat near Byron Bay and sells property at Springbrook.

2007-08

Appointed Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). In 2008 moves from bayside Brisbane to the city's inner west.

2009

The William Robinson Gallery opens at Queensland University of Technology.

2011

Celebrates his 75th birthday. The William Robinson Gallery and QUT Art Museum host a major exhibition of key works from the artist's oeuvre and publish the accompanying monograph William Robinson: The transfigured landscape.
The exhibition William Robinson: A portrait of the artist opens at the William Robinson Gallery, QUT. Robinson donates seven of only eight self portraits produced, including the Archibald Prize winning paintings Equestrian self portrait (1987) and Self portrait with stunned mullet (1994) to QUT.

2012

William Robinson: Insights, curated by Davida Allen, Betty Churcher and David Malouf, opens at the William Robinson Gallery, QUT.

2013

William Robinson: The farmyards opens at the William Robinson Gallery, QUT. Completes The garden, the first multi-panel work produced since the Creation landscape series over ten years ago. Donates the eighth self portrait, Self portrait with basket (2003) to QUT.

2014

William Robinson: Infinite sphere opens at the William Robinson Gallery, QUT.

2015

William Robinson: Inspirations, curated by The Honourable Quentin Bryce AD CVO, opens at the William Robinson Gallery, QUT.

2016

William Robinson: Genesis opens at the William Robinson Gallery, QUT.

Continues to live and work in Brisbane.