Robert Brownhall | Basil + Chippy

Waldi, the 1972 Munich Olympic games mascot, part of Robert’s connection to the Bundaberg region.

As a fledgeling emerging artist in the early 2000’s, I exhibited at the amazing and now legendary Doggett Street Studio. Scott and his crew created a rentable space in a beautiful old building in Newstead that provided an opening, a way in, and an experience of showing our work to a huge audience. The opening nights were crackerjack! (Remember gathering in crowds?)

Early on I saw exhibitions of small canvasses of contemporary urban scenes; footpath views, warehouse facades, and there was always something about the graded palette. A diaphanous light that was almost a gentle fog, so soft, laying across the surfaces. This was the work of Robert Brownhall.

Back in 2018 at a local cafe here in Bundaberg, scanning the pages of the now-online-only NewsMail, there was Robert Brownhall and the story of his drowning experience as an infant in a beach side suburb near my new home. I urge you to read Robert’s response to this on his website here, and in his words, “My parents, helpful strangers and lifeguards rescued me”. Robert shares, openly, his reflections on this event and his works, and you will really gain a deeper insight into his paintings.

Robert now exhibits with Phillip Bacon Galleries, and has an upcoming exhibition there in April 2021. You will see one of his Bundaberg pieces in the Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery from 28 August, and FOUND!HQ is very excited about it. 😀

Robert, what is your art practice?
I paint in my studio from drawings that I make of the outside world. The finished works are oil on linen canvas.

Who are your studio companions?
Basil is a 10 year old black and tan 12kg standard smooth dachshund and Chippy (Chipolata) is a 3 year old red 5kg miniature dachshund… and a childhood toy dog (a dachshund of course!).

Waldi was the 1972 Munich Olympic games mascot. He was given to me by my German grandparents after I had a drowning accident in Bundaberg, 1971. Dachshunds are wonderful companions. I have owned only this breed of dog for over 30 years.

What are you working on in your studio now?
I am currently painting South East Qld scenes for my solo exhibition at Philip Bacon Galleries next year. I am also painting some Bundaberg scenes, I lived in Bundaberg until I was 4 years old.

How has the current imposed isolation changed what you’re doing? Has something really surprised you during this transition to ‘artist in quarantine’?
For me, painting is a solitary experience. I have always been in “splendid isolation” in my studio, with my music on and my dogs sleeping near by… nothing has really changed for me.

Any special news about your art practice?
I currently have 4 works ready to show at the New York art fair, through The Rebecca Hossack Gallery. Covid-19 postponed the fair from it’s earlier time slot this year. I painted the US scenes from drawings I made over there on a 2018 trip sponsored by Urban Art Projects.

Bundaberg Regional Galleries have offered me an exhibition in 2021, which I am very excited about.* When I was 3, I had a drowning and revival experience at Kelly’s Beach, which has left me with images and feelings that have appeared in my art throughout my life. My drawing trips to Bundaberg and the paintings that come from them will be a journey of discovery for me.

*Ed: We are too Robert!

Basil and Chipolata settle in for some serious assisting.

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