Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 798 ..
MS TUCKER: The Greens support this condolence motion for Neil Roberts. Neil was an artist and an individual of rare quality. It is hard to imagine how someone of such warmth, imagination, intelligence and vision could be so suddenly and awfully taken away from us.
Neil's work has quite a presence in Canberra. His exploded footballs in the backbench corridor on the first floor of this building, which we never did get around to interpreting for Paul Osborne, makes the connection in Neil's usually light and engaging way between energy, youth, dreams and sport. And we all enjoy the play on words in his work House Proud around the Playhouse roof.
Neil was a contemporary artist of the highest calibre. His Flood Plane remains the high point of the Floriade sculpture program. His glass works, his rubbings, his found objects, his broad spectrum of works, all evoke humanity and experience. His interest in op-shops and collections, so warmly referred to by friends and family at his funeral, was a clear reflection or expression of that interest.
His vision of a football mural, using thousands of those exploded footballs that he liked so much, but from country and suburban clubs across the state, if not the nation, would have given Docklands Stadium in Melbourne some of that humanity and so invested it with rather more significance and visual appeal than the lifeless industrial lump of concrete that it is at present.
Perhaps people sometimes imagine that top-draw artists are, by definition, temperamental or self-centred. Neil was wonderful, generous ongoing proof that this is not the case-that, as you would hope, people can be gifted and giving, inspirational and responsive. Neil is widely known in Canberra for his support for other artists, for his generosity with his own ideas and for the way he could always welcome other people's contributions. He was also greatly loved because of his kindness, his humour, his friendship and his commitment.
Neil had very high standards and was admirably truthful. While he would never pretend he thought work better than it was, he would always recognise what people had to offer. One could not help but note the easiness of the man. His continuous equable commitment to work of thoughtfulness and high quality was an immensely important contribution to our arts community.
We all presumed, as you do, that Neil would continue to make a substantial contribution to the quality of our lives here. He was happily settled in Queanbeyan with a very fine, fairly new, marriage to Barbara Campbell. Those of us in the Assembly last year met them both when they worked on Barbara's reflective art piece, installed in the downstairs window of this building.
Ours is a society that very rarely gets around to appreciating its artists, although Neil's popular fame as the man with the ute who removed the vandalised Liz and Phil Down by the Lake and the coordinator of the sculpture forum is a nice counterpoint to his work as an artist in the Magistrates Court, the Playhouse, and in houses, galleries and corridors.