Robert Litchfield Juniper, 1929-2012, was an artist, art teacher, illustrator, painter, printmaker and sculptor whose art captured the rough scruffiness of the Australian bush.
Robert’s mother, Linda Juniper (nee Litchfield), was an accomplished musician. Robert’s father, Richard, served in England’s Royal Navy before joining the London Police. After moving to Greenbushes, Western Australia, Richard married Linda Litchfield and, in 1929, gave birth to Robert.
Robert’s early life was a child’s dream, spending his early years living in a small communal group along the CY O’Connor pipeline from Southern Cross to Kalgoorlie, which Richard was working on. It was an incredible experience for young Robert, living in tents and building makeshift dining halls from gum and gimlet trees wherever they camped. It was a continual nature study of the Australian bush, the plants, the animals, and their smells.
After returning to Merredin, Robert attended school, where he discovered his talent for art, one that his mother recognised and fostered. If there was a blank piece of paper anywhere in sight, it would soon be transformed into a work of art.
The family moved to South-East England in 1937, where Robert attended the Beckenham School of Art in Kent. He studied works by established and emerging European artists. Robert was particularly impressed by the work of Paul Klee, whom he admired for his experimentation with technique.
Robert had a burning desire to return to Australia. So, in 1949, he moved back to WA. He spent some time in Margaret River before heading north to see the open bush and old defunct gold mining towns. Robert became fascinated with the decay of the Australian bushland. He liked his art to look like it had experienced a millennium, and the beautiful scruffiness of the outback suited that well.
A trip to Perth's art museum had Robert captivated by fellow artist Fred McCubbins. The soft way that Fred treated the Australian bush was special to Robert, having lived and travelled the C.Y. O'Connor (Goldfields) pipeline with his family in the 1930s.
Robert was employed at a Perth plaster works company and then as a graphic artist. It wasn't until meeting John Lunghi, a European art director, that Robert's art was recognised. John encouraged Robert to exhibit his first oil painting, Evening Walk (1951-52).
In 1952, Robert travelled to Sydney, where he attended classes at East Sydney Technical College, but within a year, he returned to Perth determined to pursue his career as an artist.
Over the years, Robert has produced public murals, sculptures, set designs, stained glass windows and posters, including the 1998 Festival of Perth poster. He is one of a few artists who has undertaken a regular series of public commissions. The Government Crest on the Federal Court building in Victoria Avenue, Perth, is a permanent reminder of the impression Robert has made on this State.
Please enjoy this collection of Robert Juniper art on our Catalogue.
Read more about Robert Juniper on the original Facebook posts - view Part One and Part Two.
You can also listen to Robert's oral history or read the transcript on our catalogue.