INGPEN, Robert Roger AM (1936-)

Modified on Tue, 25 Sep 2018 11:16 by Con — Categorized as: Biography - All, Biography - Collegians in the News 1911-1960, Biography - OGCA Gallery of Notable Old Collegians, Biography - Students, Geelong College, Biography of Art, Design, Sculpture and Architecture, Z Active

INGPEN, Dr Robert Roger AM (1936-)


Robert Ingpen.

Dr Robert Ingpen AM.

Dr Robert Ingpen is a renowned illustrator, author, and winner of the prestigious, international Hans Christian Andersen award. He has been inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association Gallery of Notable Collegians.

In the 2007 Australia Day Honours, Dr Robert Ingpen's work was further acknowledged with his appointment as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) 'for service to literature as an illustrator and author of children's books, to art design and education, and as a supporter of health care organisations' .

Not only has he designed and illustrated books but he has created art in a wide variety of forms. A mural at Geelong's City Hall, the Northern Territory Flag and Coat-of-Arms, a tapestry and doors at the Melbourne Cricket ground, and Australian stamps have joined a plethora of publications and artworks in receiving the gift of his imagination. His ideas have also taken on physical form with the adaptation of his 'Peruvian gnomes' into the distinctive 'Poppykettle' Fountain at Eastern Beach, Geelong.

Robert Ingpen with Geelong College Year 8 students in 2000.

Robert Ingpen with Geelong College
Year 8 students in 2000.

His associations with Geelong College are both diverse and long-lived. Robert was a day student and member of McArthur House at Geelong College from 12 February 1942 to December 1954. His father, Thomas Roger Ingpen (1909-1991), had been a student from 8 March 1919 to December 1925. Robert's address at enrolment in 1942 was 129 Aphrasia St, Geelong. A gifted all-round student he was a member of the 1st Cricket Team of 1954, the Athletics Team of 1953 and Athletics Captain in 1954. He had also played in the U16A Football Team of 1952 and the 2nd Football XVIIIs of 1953 and 1954. He was a member of the College Cadet Corps. In 1954 he was a School Prefect.

At College, he has been a regular speaker at events. These have ranged from reading stories to children at Junior school to opening the Federation Art Show and Festival in 2001. He commented in a Speech day Address that inspiration for his book 'The afternoon treehouse' came after sitting under the big pine tree out the front of Norman Morrison Memorial Hall. College fund raising efforts have often been supported through the donation of his art work including a lithograph of the George Morrison Building. College functions and re-unions such as the 2005 Glee Club Re-union have also benefitted from his very generous artistic support. His contribution to design at the College dates back to his early working days, as he designed and illustrated the Geelong College's Centenary History, published in 1961, and designed the jacket for the biography of Geelong College Principal, Rev Sir Francis Rolland written by Bert Keith. His most profound contribution occurred during his time as a Geelong College Council Member from 1975 to November 1984. Several projects including the construction of the Austin Gray Centre were of particular interest. In 2009, he became a patron of the newly founded Geelong College Morrison Society.

Dr Ingpen studied art and illustration at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) during the late 1950s, specialising in interpreting scientific research with design. After graduating in 1958, he was appointed as artist at the Commonwealth Scientific, Industrial and Research Organisation (CSIRO) where he worked for ten years. Leaving CSIRO, Dr Ingpen began working as a freelance illustrator and author. He was also involved as a member of a United Nations team in Mexico and Peru until 1975 designing pamphlets on fisheries. As a children's author, Dr Ingpen has written and illustrated over 100 books. He first rose to prominence with his illustrations for Colin Thiele's book, Storm Boy, which won him the first Visual Arts Board award for children's books illustrations. In 2016, to mark the 70th Anniversary of the Children’s Book Council of Australia, he was awarded a lifetime achievement award. A book ‘Wonderlands - the illustration art of Robert Ingpen’ was published by the National Library of Australia to celebrate his 80th birthday in October 2016.

In 2005, Robert Ingpen was awarded the RMIT University's highest accolade, an honorary doctorate, for his outstanding contribution to the community.

Below is the detailed listing from Dr Robert Ingpen's Australia Day Honours citation:

Gilbert & Sullivan characters drawn by Robert Ingpen for the 2005 Glee Club Re-union at The Geelong College.

Gilbert & Sullivan characters drawn by Robert Ingpen
for the 2005 Glee Club Re-union at The Geelong College.


Classic Children’s Library:
Peter Pan and Wendy (Centenary edition) by J M Barrie, 2004; Treasure Island by Robert Louise Stevenson, 2005; The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, 2006; and Wind in the Willows (Centenary edition) by Kenneth Grahame, 2007.

Children’s Literature:
Storm Boy (with Colin Thiele), 1974; The Voyage of the Poppykettle, 1980; The Idle Bear, 1986; The Age of Acorns, 1988; The Nargan and the stars (with Patricia Wrightson), 1988; The Dreamkeeper, 1994; and The Afternoon Treehouse, 1997.

Adult Non-Fiction:
Marking Time – Australia’s Abandoned Buildings, 1979; The Making of Australians (with Michael Page), 1987; and Imprints of Generations – The progress of conservation in Australia, 2006.

Designed Australian postage stamps for the Captain Cook Bicentenary and Pioneer Life Series.
Designed tapestry celebrating 150 years of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, 2003.
Designed the bronze doors to the Members’ entry to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, marking 150 years of the Melbourne Cricket Club, 1988.
Designed the Northern Territory Flag and Coat of Arms, 1978.
Designed and painted The Ian Clunies Ross Memorial Mural, 1968.
Governor, Dromkeen Children’s Literature Foundation.
Member, Interim Planning Council, Deakin University.
Member, Geelong College Council.
Continuing fundraising activities for paediatric palliative care with Very Special Kids and the Barwon Health Foundation.

Awards/recognition include:
The Dromkeen Medal, for children's literature, 1989.
Hans Christian Andersen Medal, for international contribution to children's literature, particularly illustration, 1986.
Doctor of Arts honoris causa, RMIT University, 2005.


Robert Ingpen was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association Notables Gallery at Geelong College in 2011.


Sources: Pegasus 2000 p 83; Gelle Club Re-union program, 2005; Ad Astra June 2007 p28.