‘I would do it again in a heartbeat’

Artist Brian Robinson working with some linocut.

Artist Brian Robinson working with some linocut.

Given the opportunity of a lifetime the winner of the inaugural Collie Art Prize Brian Robinson was sworn to secrecy when chosen to be the first artist to design the Commonwealth Games track on opening and closing night. 

The Cairns based Torres Strait Islander worked on several other artworks alongside designing the track, one being his award winning linocut print, By Virtue of This Act I Hereby Take Possession of This Land which won the $50,000 Collie Art Prize. 

Mr Robinson said the track and Collie Art Prize artwork shared similarities. 

By Virtue of This Act I Hereby Take Possession of This Land which won the $50,000 Collie Art Prize.

By Virtue of This Act I Hereby Take Possession of This Land which won the $50,000 Collie Art Prize.

“It's got very similar Torres Strait patternation that is exactly the same as the Collie Art Prize piece. So the track itself did itself start as a large linocut print which was then super sized to fill the stadium,” he said. 

He was first approached to design the track in late 2016 by Jack Morton Worldwide and said it was such an honour. 

"An opportunity such as this is once in a lifetime really and to be given that honour to not only design the track but the first artist to be given that experience of doing it was just amazing,” Mr Robinson said. 

The track was produced over six months starting off as sketches, from the sketches he then drew them onto a large linocut track of six metres by 3.5 metres in dimension and from there hand cut it all.

It was then transformed to print form with pieces of the individual track printed, scanned, traced and vectorised. 

Mr Robinson said the linocut was then able to be enlarged further to fit the entire track. 

“From there it was enlarged and then printed onto a robust flooring viynl and the vinyl was the thing that was laid on top of the competing track.”

He said hand carving was one of the most grueling and challenging parts of the process. 

“Hand carving was about a month straight, morning to night, seven days a week, carving with very small tools to complete it. That was one of the hardest parts but initially the entire concept and the visual imagery that represents that story was another challenging part of it,” he said. 

The theme for the show was discussed when he was chosen as the sole artist to design the track he said.  

“The opening ceremony looked at initially placing earth within the cosmos including stars, then how people navigated that early world from Indigenous people to European explorers and it then went to navigating all of those territories to the interaction of marine life on that journey that they took.

“One of those marine creatures which was quite pivotal to the overall narrative that they wanted to represent was the white whale, quite a graceful creature and rare given its colouration. It's found quite often in Australian waters. Then there were elements of that surf life and boating culture,” said Mr Robinson.

Flying from Cairns to the Gold Coast and seeing the track before the ceremony began and then seeing it illuminated by the lights on opening night is something he said he won’t forget. 

‘’We went straight to the stadium and had a physical walk around the entire track and just to have that experience of during the day time actually seeing the whole track but then at night under the lights and with the the performers it was absolutely breathtaking and really amazing to see that.

“The lights illuminated the track so it was mind blowing. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Mr Robinson. 

Mr Robinson’s artwork along with the other winners’ and finalists’ is still on display at the Collie Art Gallery until this Sunday April 15.