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Lyrical Landscapes: The Art of William Robinson

Coinciding with the artist’s 85th year, HOTA, Home of the Arts presents Lyrical Landscapes: The Art of William Robinson, opening this Saturday until 3 October 2021. Celebrating one of Australia’s foremost living artists and greatest landscape painters, this exhibition will see Robinson’s entire Creation Series, produced over 16 years, presented together for the first time.


Robinson’s Creation Series is widely considered his master works, the series highlights the artist’s spiritual connection to the natural world and through their symphonic composition, his love of classical music. Curated by former Governor-General and close friend of the artist Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO, Lyrical Landscapes: The Art of William Robinson will feature monumental multi-panelled epic landscapes, including HOTA’s own work The rainforest.


Brisbane born and raised William Robinson AO, has been awarded both the Archibald and Wynne Prizes and is celebrated for his immense multi-perspectival canvases that transformed the way we view Australian landscape painting.


In 1984 Robinson took up residence on a 208-acre farm on the western slopes of Beechmont in the Gold Coast hinterland. There, he would walk and observe the surrounding sub-tropical rainforest, creating a time for reflection that revealed both the subtle pleasures and grand beauty of the natural world around him. 


These experiences inspired Robinson, a painter and pianist, to create works of art that twisted Australian landscape painting in a thoroughly new direction, creating unforgettable art that speaks to his deep fascination with Queensland and New South Wales landscapes.



One of the first works that inspired the series is the hero of the Gold Coast’s Collection, Robinson’s five-metre painting The rainforest. Depicting Botan Creek in the Beechmont rainforest as it flows into a waterfall, and descends into the Coomera River, Robinson’s painting is a meditation on a landscape where time seems suspended.


This is also realised in Robinson’s majestic Creation series, a suite of seven works that are a symbolic nod to the seven days of creation. The elusive sense of spirituality embedded in Robinson’s painterly landscapes is balanced by the practicalities of composition that he explores, challenges and inverts. Through re-imagining perspective, Robinson places the viewer within, yet simultaneously above, the landscape, transposing the physical effect of being in a landscape into one of all-encompassing reverence.


Criena Gehrke, CEO said: We are thrilled to present this opportunity to see the Creation series in its entirety within HOTA Gallery, the design of which itself was inspired by Robinson’s The rainforest. As the second major exhibition at HOTA Gallery, Lyrical Landscapes: The Art of William Robinson is a love letter to the Gold Coast, as much as it is a celebration of one of the greatest living landscape artists in Australia.


Tracy Cooper-Lavery, Director Gallery and Visual Arts said: William Robinson’s painting The rainforest was awarded the 1990 Wynne Prize for Landscape and was acquired by Gold Coast City Gallery (now HOTA Gallery) in 1991 through community support and fundraising. His paintings are exquisite lyrical interpretations of the landscape, and an exploration of the Gold Coast hinterland – a site of immense, ancient beauty, and a place of reverence.


The Honourable Dame Quentin Bryce AD CVO commentsThere is no doubt that William Robinson is one of our Nation’s greatest landscape artists. Early in my term as Governor-General, I borrowed one of his most loved and admired rainforest paintings, ‘Springbrook with lifting Fog’ from the National Gallery of Australia for the wall of my study at Yarralumla.  Every day it brought to my life sublime beauty, intellectual and spiritual questioning and understanding of the joyousness of nature. 


Across the years since I have rejoiced in having some of Bill’s beautiful work in my life, at home and in my QUT Office.  It has taught me so much about landscape in art and in life. About how much a work of great beauty demands and how much pleasure, happiness, contentment, and wonder it gives. 


What a delight then and a huge privilege to be involved in HOTA Gallery’s exhibition ‘Lyrical Landscapes’ presenting to the public William Robinsons most significant body of work in its entirety for the first time. The perfect way to celebrate the 85th birthday of our great Australian landscape artist.


The new $60.5 million HOTA Gallery opened to the public on Saturday 8 May 2021. Spanning six levels and including over 2000m2 of AAA rated, international standard exhibition space, a dedicated Children’s Gallery, and the $32 million City collection, HOTA Gallery is the largest public gallery outside a capital city in Australia. 


This exhibition is supported by Arts Queensland through the Queensland Government Exhibition Indemnification Scheme.


Supported by Philip Bacon AO. 





To request interviews, further information or imagery please contact: Amy Stalinescu | M10 Collective | E: amy@m10.com.au | M: 0411 789 195

IMAGES: Images available for download HERE


William Robinson (b.1936, Brisbane) is widely regarded as one of Australia’s most distinguished artists, best known for his landscape and portrait painting. Robinson is critically acclaimed for his arresting landscape compositions of South East Queensland rainforests and seascapes of northern New South Wales. Robinson’s landscapes, with their multiple, ever-shifting perspectives generate a hallucinatory yet real experience of the Australian bush complete with trepidation and awe. His portraits and farmyard paintings are widely adored with their quintessential hint of Robinson humour and sense of play highlighting his spirit and sensitivity for both his subjects, and the act of painting itself.

After graduating in 1962 from Brisbane's Central Technical College, an early forerunner of Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point Campus, he began a long and distinguished career teaching art. Awarded the Archibald Prize by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1987, Robinson’s winning portrait was the point of much commotion in the art world due to the artist’s low profile – a result of teaching in Brisbane and living off-grid in Beechmont in the Gold Coast Hinterland’s Scenic Rim. Having garnered critical acclaim and recognition of his painting practice, Robinson left teaching in 1989 to work full time as an artist and since then his work has achieved further national prominence.

He has twice been the recipient of the Archibald Prize (1987 and 1995) and Wynne Prize (1990 and 1996) from the Art Gallery of New South Wales. In 2001 Darkness and Light – The Art of William Robinson was published to accompany the large-scale retrospective of some 90 works exhibited at the Queensland Art Gallery and which toured to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra in 2002. William Robinson was honoured by the Queensland Government in 2004 as one of Queensland’s Greats. He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates by three Universities – the University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba; Griffith University, Brisbane; and Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane. In 2007 the artist was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his outstanding achievement and service to the arts.

In 2009 the William Robinson Gallery was founded at Old Government House in QUT’s Garden’s Point Campus. The William Robinson Gallery honours the life and work of this distinguished Australian artist, presenting annual exhibitions, producing publications and films, conducting research on the artist’s practice and holding the largest public collection of Robinson's work in the world. Robinson is the only living Australian artist to have a public gallery in his name. Robinson's work is represented in all major Australian public art museums as well as in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Vatican Museums, Vatican City; and the British Museum, London.




William Robinson’s Creation series is a collection of seven epic, multi-panelled paintings produced throughout a 16-year period from 1988-2004.  The artist employs compositional devices that assist in making the landscape so topsy turvy. In several works, the unorthodox placement of the sun—so typically radiating from above in Australian landscape painting—is made stranger still by the inversion of trees. Trunks simultaneously reach up and down, creating a sense of mystery and grandeur. These paintings seem to remind the viewer of how awe-inspiring and unfamiliar this landscape is to the untrained eye. Robinson also uses water as a crucial compositional device, and reflection is used to echo the sky—the clouds, moon and stars—to all-encompassing effect. As viewers, we too gaze upon these vistas with wonder and contemplation and the ever-changing natural phenomena.


These paintings are an amalgam of Robinson’s interests and beliefs: providence and classical music. He infers the seven days of creation.. Robinson, also a keen classical pianist, echoes the silences, pauses, and inversions, particularly in the compositions of Bach. The breaks between the mountain ranges, skies, and upended trees in the Creation series could echo a musical composition.




In May 2021, HOTA opened the City’s new $60.5M Gallery. HOTA Gallery is the centrepiece of the City’s Cultural Precinct Masterplan which guides the evolution of the precinct over the next 10-15 years as the city’s artistic and cultural needs grow. With more than $399 million allocated to deliver the precinct, this is a City serious about supporting the arts.


Designed by international architects ARM and spanning six levels with over 2000m2 of AAA rated, international standard exhibition space, the new Gallery includes a 1000m2 main exhibition space, with the capacity for touring exhibitions of an international size and scale. It features 900m2 of exhibition space for the City Collection and temporary exhibitions, a dedicated Children’s Gallery and almost 1000m2 for collection storage and exhibition preparation. HOTA Gallery is a must-see destination that facilitates and shares new ideas and experiences in visual art both indoors and outdoors; that draws its strength from integrated arts programming, and collaborations with artists, creatives and institutional partners on a local to global scale.


HOTA Gallery is the largest public gallery outside a capital city in Australia with the ability and ambition to present exhibitions and projects of national and international scale. In the first two years the Gallery will host two major international exhibitions that are Australian exclusives and will continue to celebrate local talent along with presenting the $32 million City Collection in its new home the annual Gallery program also features commissions, children’s exhibition, talks, performances and Up-Lates alongside external activations and installations. HOTA Gallery also has a comprehensive, inquiry-based education program delivered by experienced educators and artists working together. As well as exhibition specific resources, education tours and professional development programs are delivered year-round. 


For more information visit: https://hota.com.au/new-hota-gallery/