Atkins is an obsessive collector who takes the stock of 'what his eye finds' and turns it into clever abstractions on canvas. His eye is mercurial, with an uncanny ability to see resonance in forgotten, derailed or transient things. In the act of 'finding' and the translation of 'found' matter into luminous painted emblems and bowerbird journals, Atkins crosses visual cultures and codes and manages to bring attention to the visual remnants and trace elements of our lives.
Born in Murrurundi, New South Wales in 1963, Atkins studied at the Newcastle Art School and the National Art School, East Sydney in the mid 1980s. In 2003 the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery presented the major survey of Atkins' work, 'Big Paintings 1990-2003', and in 1994 Atkins was awarded the Gold Medal at the VIII Triennale - India 1994 for his exhibition 'World Journal', curated by Annette Larkin.
Important group exhibitions for Atkins include, 'Melbourne Now', National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2013; 'Clemenger Contemporary Art Award', The Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2009; 'The Shilo Project', The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne, 2009; 'Home Sweet Home: Works from the Peter Fay Collection', National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2003; 'Uncommon World: Aspects of Contemporary Australian Art', National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2000; 'Systems End: Contemporary Art in Australia', curators William Wright and Takeshi Kanazawa, OXY Gallery, Osaka; Hakone Open-Air Museum, Tokyo; Dong-Ah Gallery, Seoul; Kaohsiung Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan, 1996-97; and, 'Australian Perspecta 1989', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1989.
Atkins' work is held in the state collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane; and significant regional, corporate and private collections in Australia. Peter Atkins is represented by Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne.