Robert Dickerson was a self-taught artist who was part of the Antipodeans. A group of artists who came together in 1959 and stressed the importance of figurative painting over abstract expressionism. Themes of loneliness, vulnerability and isolation are common throughout his work and characters with long noses and averted eyes are motifs that are often revisited.
Dickerson was a child of the Great Depression which in turn forced him to leave school and take up work in a factory when he was only 14. In addition to this, he also picked up boxing as a hobby and turned professional at 16. When he was around 18 he joined the Royal Australian Air Force and spent time in Darwin and South East Asia during the Second World War, where he made drawings in his down time. He turned to painting in 1947 but remained working in menial jobs for many years until his mid thirties, when he finally became a full-time artist. This came about because in 1957 he won 100 pounds for a fridge decorating competition which allowed him to buy more art materials and experiment with different techniques.
Dickerson continued to paint and exhibit regularly for the next five decades before his death in Nowra, on the New South Wales south coast, in 2015