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Reflections

Canberra beaches No.3: the High Court, 1984
screenprint
56 x 86 cm
Purchased 1996

Toni ROBERTSON

born 1953

Toni Robertson studied fine arts at the University of Sydney in the 1970s and was a founding member of the infl uential Earthworks Poster Collective (1971-80) at the University’s Tin Sheds. Earthworks were pioneers of the political poster movement in the 1970s, producing inexpensive screenprints for liberal political and social causes and underground cultural events and organisations. They referenced poster art from revolutionary Russia and 1930s Europe in their use of bold colour and graphics incorporating photography and collaged imagery.


From 1982-85 Robertson lived in Canberra and lectured in printmaking and photomedia at the ANU School of Art. In 1984 she made work for Sites of power: an exhibition of posters and prints, which focused on the theme of government and political dissent. It was shown in Sydney, Adelaide and Canberra. The posters were characteristic of Robertson’s work in their often surprising pastiche of the familiar and the everyday with subversive elements, and among the most witty juxtapositions was the series of Canberra beaches, where the artist embedded classic Australian vignettes of surfers, lifesavers and families at the beach amongst the iconic monuments of the national capital.


Robertson’s work has appeared in many group exhibitions in the 1970s and 1980s and subsequently, and along with Chips Mackinolty and others she is recognised as a leading fi gure in Australian political printmaking. Her work is held in many public collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian War Memorial, Artbank and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney as well as tertiary, state library and union collections.


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