By John Edward Robinson
Bronze sculpture, 1974: Queen Victoria Gardens
Artist John Robinson has a long history with Australia. Born in London in 1935, he came to Australia briefly during the war as a child evacuated to escape the German bombing of London. He returned in 1952, living on the land in South Australia, which is where he rediscovered his early talent for sculpture. Returning to England in 1969, he devoted himself to sculpture full time. Robinson’s reputation as a figurative sculptor grew quickly.
In 1973, the City of London commissioned his Hammer Thrower. In 1974, he began to focus on more symbolic forms. Robinson’s major commissions include four sculptures for the Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Gymnast for the New Olympic Museum, Lausanne, and The Pathfinder and Water Children, now with the City of Melbourne.
Mining giant Conzinc Riotinto (now known as Rio Tinto) commissioned Robinson’s The Pathfinder, which they planned to install in their proposed new building. When the building failed to go ahead, the ‘dynamic’ sculpture of the hammer thrower in action was placed on long-term loan with the City of Melbourne, which sited the bronze in the Queen Victoria Gardens.
The hammer held by the figure has been stolen several times and duly returned or replaced by another. Lord Mayor Councillor Whalley unveiled The Pathfinder in April 1974.