Important Australian and International Fine Art
28 November 2018


born 1936

oil on linen

137.0 x 183.0 cm

signed and dated lower right: William Robinson 95
inscribed with title verso: BELOW SPRINGBROOK WITH LIGHT RAIN

Private sale

Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Perth
Christie’s, Melbourne, 27 November 2001, lot 52
Private collection, Melbourne


William Robinson, Ray Hughes Gallery, Sydney, 28 June – 24 July 1996, cat. 3

Catalogue text

Below Springbrook With Light Rain, 1995 is a classic example of William Robinson’s painting at its best. He flaunts his skills as a colourist and draughtsman and again uses his device of multiple view points within the one picture plane. Robinson uses vastly different techniques when applying the paint in the major passages of the painting. The meditative application of deep greens and granite greys in the broad right-side of the composition, is used to depict the ancient features of the landscape and evoke the notion of a timeless past. On the left of the painting Robinson deploys a more upbeat, staccato brushwork, where the colour tends to fizz on the surface and evoke a celebratory feel as new growth appears to unfurl from within the ridge line as its sweeps north to envelope the old land.

In the painting’s title, Below Springbrook With Light Rain, Robinson points us to the actual subject within the broader context of the landscape. The weather plays an important role in Robinson’s works and he observes it very keenly, after all it is the rain, then running water which created the gorges and ravines that he draws on. In the centre of the painting we see light clouds drifting upwards as they deliver the rain. The presence of the mackerel sky indicates a major weather change is coming and you can sense the barometric pressure drop as the vacuum effect draws the viewer’s eye down through the valley. Robinson’s paintings create the sensation of being inside the landscape and in the passage below the artist explains the feeling he attempts to convey:

‘I want to move away from observing the picture as some sort of representation. I want to sweep the observer down gullies and up into the sky. The observer is drawn into the landscape not physically but as a sort of connection to memory. The painting reminds us of experiences we might have had when walking in the bush ... I am only presenting personal experience to be shared, but I would like to give some clues that may help the observer to experience the picture’.1

In relation to a sense of place, Robinson has made a unique contribution to the Australian landscape tradition, moving beyond conventional depictions to encompass a fluctuating environment; of rainforest and ocean, ground and sky, day and night, elemental forces of wind, lightning, rain and fire. His multidimensional grasp of time and space also suggests metaphors for states of mind and being, life and death, continuity and transcendence. The profound spiritual resonances in Robinson’s art remind us of the need to preserve an ancient natural world in the present; ‘to keep the faith’, as Simon Schama wrote in Landscape and Memory, ‘with a future on this tough, lovely old planet.’2

1. Seear, L., Darkness and Light, The Art of William Robinson, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 2001, p. 118
2. Hart, D., ‘William Robinson’s artistic development: An intimate and expansive journey’ in William Robinson, A Transfigured Landscape, Queensland University of Technology and Piper Press, Brisbane, 2011, p. 38