Many people will know Brian Burke as the halfback who helped guide the Maitland Pumpkin Pickers to four premierships between 1965 and 1973, as well as representing at State level. But few will know him as a patron of the arts, and even fewer will be aware of Mr Burke’s connection to Robin (aka John Robinson), artist, convicted armed robber and Maitland Gaol inmate.
In 1977, Maitland Gaol hosted a rare charity relay fundraising event and, as a locally renowned sportsman, Mr Burke was on hand to present the awards. In return he was given a small landscape painting signed simply, “Robin”. Impressed, Mr Burke commissioned the artist for another, larger one for his home. The two paintings are identical in style to another Robin-signed work in the gaol’s saddlery and a much larger unsigned piece on display in the administration office.
Oral history of Robin’s story continues. Mid-way through a lengthy sentence for armed robbery, and having been removed to Milson Island on the Hawkesbury River, Robin was allowed to travel to Sydney for art classes. One afternoon Robin didn’t return, escaping briefly, only to be arrested for another offence in South Australia.
Anyone with prison-made artworks who would be interested in loaning them to the jail for a proposed future exhibition are encouraged to contact Maitland Gaol on (02) 4936 6482 or email firstname.lastname@example.org