14th September 2021

Parents of children aged 6-12 looking for some September school holiday fun can take them on a trip through the night skies illustrated by one of Australia’s greatest living artists, William Robinson.

Their guide and planetary advisor will be ‘Penelope Pademelon’, herself mostly a creature of the night and native to the Gold Coast hinterland rainforests that many of the painter’s most beloved artworks are set in.

The activities are part of the new William Robinson: Nocturne exhibition which opens 17 September 2021 at QUT’s William Robinson Gallery in Old Government House on the Garden’s Point campus in Brisbane’s CBD.

It highlights the rarely explored theme of the night which pervades the 85-year-old artist’s decades-long practice and includes rare preparatory studies, as well as artworks not previously seen by the public.

Gallery director and curator, Vanessa Van Ooyen, said the artworks in the exhibition have a distinctive sense of time passing, as well as a multi-point perspective in which the viewer sees the image from different angles all at the same time.


William Robinson Springbrook merging towards night 2004, colour etching. QUT Art Collection. Donated under the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by William Robinson, 2018.

“William Robinson, his wife Shirley and their children, along with a menagerie of animals, spent many years living in the Gold Coast hinterland and much of his work celebrates its natural beauty,” said Ms Van Ooyen.

“The passage of time is a major theme in Bill’s practice and many of his paintings from the late 1970s onwards incorporate both day and night simultaneously. In several of these works, the night sky is depicted as a reflection, in rivers of stars or pools mirroring the moon, yet equally, they rely on capturing a mood or atmosphere that the vantage point of the twilight hours afford.

“Children who come to the exhibition will be transfixed by the way in which his paintings also capture the flora and fauna, including pademelons like Penelope who are nocturnal – they sleep all day and graze on grass from dusk.

“The activity kit invites youngsters to give new names to artworks they see, as well as imagine being within an artwork, write a short story or choose a musical soundtrack to match a painting.

“Bill was once a teacher and I think he will be delighted to see what kids come up with in response.”

Other activities which can be completed at home or in school include composing acrostic poems from the words ‘nocturne’ and ‘moon’, making a telescope with kitchen utensils and creating a sculpture from objects and furniture within the home.

William Robinson: Nocturne opens 17 September 2021 and runs for 12 months until September 2022

William Robinson Artist Biography

  • William Robinson is a distinguished Australian contemporary artist best known for his landscapes and self-portraits, born in 1936 in Brisbane. 
  • A QUT alumnus and teacher, he graduated from Brisbane’s Central Technical College in 1962, which was an early forerunner of QUT’s Gardens Point campus. He had a lengthy career teaching art at several of the University’s predecessor institutions.   
  • Robinson left teaching in 1989 to work full-time on his art. 
  • Robinson is critically acclaimed for his striking compositions of south-east Queensland rainforests and seascapes of northern New South Wales. His work has changed the way we perceive the local landscape through his distinctive and signature multi-viewpoint perspective. 
  • Robinson’s work has achieved national and international prominence, awarding him prizes that include the Archibald Prize and the Wynne Prize.   
  • Robinson’s work is represented in all major Australian public art museums, as well as in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Vatican Museums, Vatican City; and the British Museum, London. 
  • In 2007, Robinson was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his outstanding achievement and service to the arts. 

Main image: William Robinson Beechmont landscape, early evening 1985, coloured pastels. QUT Art Collection. Donated under the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by William Robinson, 2009.

Media contact:

Amanda Weaver, QUT Media, 07 3138 3151, amanda.weaver@qut.edu.au

After hours: Rose Trapnell, 0407 585 901, media@qut.edu.au

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