Robert Brownhall’s realist paintings reflect a strong connection to place. His sweeping vistas, moody nocturnes and wistful vignettes of urban life record his observations around Brisbane and the neighbouring Gold and Sunshine Coasts.
Drawing has always been special to Robert, who reflects:
“Drawing is such a satisfying practice. A wonderful meditation. When the hand and mind are engaged with the subject, all negative thoughts and worries disappear. I have hundreds of sketches of Brisbane in my personal collection. They stretch back 37 years to when I was a teenager. They are prized possessions – the first thing I would grab if the house was burning. I remember turning to drawing after failing to gain entrance to several courses at university. It was a recession too, I could not find a job anywhere. I felt forgotten by the world. Drawing took my mind off my problems and gave me a purpose in life. Something to get up for each day.”
Robert has sketched scores of Brisbane buildings, houses and bridges over the last few decades. He especially enjoyed drawing the Old Parliament building, the Old Museum and Saint John’s Cathedral. City Hall is a building he has always wanted to draw.
As Artist in Residence, Robert will work onsite at Museum of Brisbane to sketch views from City Hall, and offsite to capture the building from nearby vantage points. Visitors are invited to speak with him about his practice and enduring interest in what makes place. Robert’s residency aligns with the themes explored in Making Place: 100 Views of Brisbane, and upon completion, a number of his drawings of City Hall will be displayed in the exhibition.
MoB’s Artist in Residence program is supported by Tim Fairfax AC.
Robert Brownhall is well known for his realist paintings. Born and raised in Brisbane, he has long found inspiration in his local environment of South East Queensland. Over the past three decades, Robert has painted urban scenes in Brisbane and recreational spots on the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. He has also recorded moments from his interstate travels. Robert draws as a way of thinking through the scenes he observes, often from his car or in high-rise buildings, beaches and parks. In his sketches, he includes notes about colour, mood and ambience that are later translated into his paintings. Robert’s realism is not slick – there is a humanity to his brushstrokes, as there is to his figures. His works carry a filmic quality, achieved through his skilful rendering of light. Robert’s paintings are steeped in the personal, and extend the visual poetry associated with the places depicted.