The not so stranded employee

Our Senior Art Director John Robinson has had quite a unique COVID-19 experience, and he shares his journey and what he has learnt along the way.
Written by
Pico Play
Published on
26th August, 2020

Our Senior Art Director John Robinson has had quite a unique COVID-19 experience, only just being allowed back into his place of residence in Singapore after nearly half a year in Australia. Below he shares his journey and what he has learnt along the way.

  1. You’ve had a tumultuous experience over the last few months to say the least, can you briefly outline the itinerary you’ve had?

I returned to Australia in early March to attend a family funeral in Victoria, this was to be for one week, before I was able to return to Singapore the lockdown occurred. Whilst numerous applications were made to the Singapore government over the ensuing months I was not granted approval to return until 10th of August some five months after my departure.

  1. What has kept you busy during this chaotic time?

In the early stages of the lockdown my manager, Darren McLean, requested and assisted me to make my way to Queensland to join Mark Snell (Pico Play Senior Artist) for a project at his Coolum factory. This also gave me the opportunity to spend some time with my adult kids as they live in and around Brisbane. I just escaped Victoria by a couple of days when all states went into independent lockdown with no further travel!

  1. It seems you have been busy in the Queensland factory. What are some of the projects you have been working on?

The first project with Mark was for a Japanese company, and while simple enough in its specifications presented some problems in securing short notice resources and suitable materials as many companies had by necessity closed their doors, however, Mark’s knowledge of the local area and people got us through.

After a few days break a second project presented itself, I guess a bit of a fun one, once again with Mark, this project opened up some different and interesting challenges by way of 3D routing, it was destined for Qatar and commissioned through White Water Canada, after a couple of hick-ups along the way the project ultimately came together nicely.

  1. What is something valuable you have learned through this experience?

Through many ups and downs over this last few months both from a personal viewpoint and the work challenges put before us, it would be remiss of me not to mention the support I received from Mark and his family and the Pico Play family, in fact Mark led the projects quite comfortably and was a pleasure to work with.

The Pico team made sure I was accommodated nicely and had the personal support and transportation to make Corona life almost non-existent on the Sunny Coast, while sipping a juice on the balcony of my unit looking out over the Coolum ocean after a hot day at the factory. It reminds one that the people around you and those you work closely with form an important part of your life and make it the good fortune it is to be able to live in Australia.

  1. How have you gone about staying positive/motivated during your time here?

I think what has always kept me motivated is the vast and varying creative opportunities. The field we work in is so diverse, there generally several of ways a project can be approached. There are also generally many different materials that can be used to achieve relatively the same results, so the question is always, which is going to work best on each particular occasion.

Currently Pico Play is embarking on a relatively new process of sculpture, very soon we will have a 5-axis 3D router set up in our Malaysian factory. While working in Marks Coolum factory we had a taste of this exciting process. I see so much potential for it in our field, it is not new by world standards, but it is new for Pico Play and I look forward to being part of that development, however small that part may be.

Senior Art Director John Robinson

After 45 years of learning and discovery, Johns joined Pico Play towards the end of 2018 as Senior Art Director, based in our Singapore office.

He has worked on many notable projects such as Singapore Zoo and other Asian based projects, which has allowed his strength in natural history and sculpture to once again stir his imagination.  John’s extensive career has also enabled him to work closely on many larger theming projects in Asia. He has considerable experience in all aspects of themed fabrication and construction including; sculpture in all media, polyurethane applications, public art and artificialrockwork.

Some of his most notable projects include:

Project Development - Tiger Island Theming, Dreamworld Gold Coast.

Project manager - Luna Park face Sydney.

Art Director - Universal Studios Lost World Singapore

Art Director - River Safari Singapore

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