Robert Juniper was born in Western Australia in the wheat belt town of Merriden on 7 January 1929. He was known as an artist, art teacher, illustrator, painter, printmaker and sculptor.
From 1943 to 1947, Juniper studied commercial art and industrial design at the Beckenham School of Art in Kent, England.
After returning to Western Australia in 1949, he worked in the modeling shop of HB Brady and Co in Perth and as a graphic artist with J. Gibbney and Sons.
In 1952 and 1953 Juniper informally attended lectures at East Sydney Technical College.
Juniper also worked as an art teacher for many years, teaching part time at the Perth College from 1954 to 1956, at the Hale School from 1956 to 1964 and the Guildford Grammar School from 1964 to 1984.
During the 1960’s Robert’s excursions into the Australian outback with Ian Parkes were the principal inspiration for the subject matter for much of his abstract art, which conveyed his vision of the outback and the desert.
Juniper’s abstract works are known for their poeticism and spontaneity and he cited as some of main influences the English painters of the early 1900’s such as Paul Klee, the Japanese work of the 19th Century and his Australian contemporary, the artist Sam Fullbrook.
From 1974 Juniper devoted himself to full time painting, sculpting and printmaking and established himself as one of Australia’s leading painters. Juniper was married three times and had four children.
He exhibited extensively during his career with many solo and group exhibitions throughout Australia and overseas, including London, the USA, New Zealand, Europe, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, New Caledonia and Tokyo.
In Australia Juniper’s works were shown in Perth, Broome, Sydney, Canberra, Darwin, Gosford, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.
In 1992, Juniper designed the coat of arms for the Commonwealth Law Courts in Perth. He was also commissioned to work on a feature window in the restored Bunbury Catholic Cathedral and this was completed in 2011.
During his distinguished career, Robert Juniper won many prestigious civic awards, including: the Western Australia Week Council’s Citizen of the Year Award in 1979; an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Western Australia in 1984; the State Living Treasures Award in 1998 from the Ministry for Culture and the Arts in Western Australia; the Centenary Medal of Federation for service to Australian landscape paintings and contemporary art in 2003; medal for the Services to Art, from The Painters and Sculpture Association of Australia in 2004; and in 2011 he was Appointed Member of the Order of Australia for service to the visual arts, particularly as an Australian landscape painters and contemporary artist.
Juniper won several art prizes, including: the Perth Prize for Contemporary Art (1954, 1957, 1960 & 1962); the Rubenstein Travelling Scholarship in 1959; the Perth Prize for Contemporary Art in 1960; the T.W. Wardle Invitation Prize in 1966; the prestigious Wynne Prize in 1976 and 1980; the Rubenstein Portrait Prize in 1960; the Mona McCaughley Prize in 1980; the National Heritage Award, Contemporary Division (for stained glass design, windows, Holy Trinity Church, York) in 1987 and the Kingfisher Prize, NSW in 1988.
In the 1990’s Craftsman House published two books about Juniper, “Robert Juniper” by Philippa O’Brien and “The Art of Robert Juniper” by Elwyn Lynn.
In 1995 a park in Perth, Juniper Gardens was named after him and the park showcases some of his magnificent bronze sculptures.
In 1999, Juniper was awarded a major retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
Juniper continued to paint consistently and remained a highly productive artist and inspirational mentor for many other Australian artists right up until just before his death on 20 December 2012 when he passed away at the age of 83 at his Darlington home.
Robert Juniper’s works are held in numerous collections, including: the National Gallery of Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Queensland Art Gallery, Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory; Parliament House in Canberra, Fremantle Arts Centre; Wollongong City Gallery and many university, civic, corporate and private collections.