By Nick Earls
Queensland University of Technology, William Robinson Gallery, 2019, HB, 87pp
Whilst the medium of the short tract on artists and their work is not new, the approach taken in Nick Earls’ William Robinson: A New Perspective, is. Earls has published a dozen fictional works. Here is something new and refreshing. Part philosophical tract and artistic raison d’etre, this novella-length work follows Robinson from the frustration at his early output, his escape from suburbia to raise goats in the pristine and lush Queensland rain forest, while concentrating on the artist’s working method and subject matter.
The subtitle A New Perspective applies as much to Robinson’s discovery and adoption of using up to four dimensions to his now famous landscapes which give the viewer the sense of being able to walk though his terrain. All of this is gained whilst he continues to commute to the city to teach a much more conservative perspective involving T-square and two dimensions of space.
Earls also jumps into unknown territory. In this, his first non-fiction work, he has achieved a unique way of presenting a life which focuses primarily on art with Robinson’s biographical data working towards an explanation of his method and output. Only a writer who is gifted in letting the interior monologues of life play to their true potential is capable of such detailed and exacting insight and empathy.
Through Earls and his detailing of the minutiae of life, we learn of the parts that married life, the environment and music play upon the artistic method of one of Australia’s premier portraitists and landscapists. Both Robinson and Earls are true craftsmen, and Earls is able to craft a story out of very little direct quotation from Robinson, his agents and critics.
Whilst reproductions of the art would further aid the reader in their understanding of Robinson’s output, the simplicity and the appropriateness of the matter to hand always ensures comprehension. Presented as a simple yet elegant cloth-bound hardback, the covers are etched with shot royal purple and blue etchings courtesy of the artist.