"We knew nothing about animals at all. And, when you move to a farm, you think. Well, Bruce Dawe wrote a poem about a mini-farmer riding a mini-mower around all the time - well, that's how it starts It finishes with seventy goats and forty chooks and five or six cows and sheds all over the place fifteen years later." (L. Klepac, (ed.), William Robinson, Sydney, 2001, p.33).
William Robinson's experience of farm life, which he recounts above, began in 1970 when the artist moved with his family from Coorparoo, an inner-city suburb of Brisbane. Robinson and his wife, Shirley, chose a new rural life to give his children space and freedom, along the way accumulating the necessary rural accoutrements.
The growth of the artist's farm, which seems to have occurred without design, is expressed in this 'portrait' of the animals under his care. Faces of goats, painted in impasto swathes of black, grey and taupe, stand as evidence of the farm's beneficence, but also the farmer's ultimate lack of control over his farming destiny. Three rows of faces peer inquisitively at the viewer, the blank background and close detail giving privileged position to the subjects of the 'portrait'.
This reflects Robinson's philosophy, which assigns a role to God as Creator. "God is up, and I can see by looking down from here, He is also down. Looking down there is an order in nature and an order in the building of the creatures of nature - mankind. There is also an apparent insignificance in the smallness of man's effortshow significant is our art? It is significant because it is in our hearts, it explains our lives and uplifts us." (Ibid).