One of New Zealand’s most respected visual artists, Dame Robin White, is visiting Havelock North towards the end of March. Of Maori and Pakeha descent, she was born in Te Puke and has strong family ties to the Bay of Plenty region which has a significant geographic relationship with the Kermadec Islands that were visited by White and 8 other artists in 2011. Since then White has participated in group exhibitions in New Zealand and overseas showing work inspired by the visit, and has just returned from New Caledonia where the exhibition “Kermadec: Nine artists in the South Pacific” opened on February 28 at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre in Noumea.
Much of the work White produced in the 1970s has become iconic New Zealand art, and she is regarded as one of our “most prominent painters”. In 1982 she and her family moved to Kiribati (a group of small islands in the Central Pacific) to work with the local Baha’i community. White adapted to her new environment on every level, including that of her art work, and used the medium of woodcut printmaking to record her experience of island life. White returned to NZ in 1999 and is now based in Masterton but continues to work with artists from the Pacific.
Her “recent work is an astonishing amalgam of Palangi (Pakeha), Maori and Pacific influences. She continues to make prints, draw, paint and take photographs” and her recent collaborations have been with a young Tongan artist, making large paintings on tapa. Her works are included in public collections around New Zealand including the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, as well as in the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. She is represented by Peter McLeavey Gallery, Wellington.
‘A study of her paintings, Robin White: New Zealand Painter’, was published by Alister Taylor in 1981. In 2003, White was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. “For younger generations of New Zealand artists, White is a role model par excellence, a kuia, an exemplary artist in every respect.”
White is talking at Havelock North Community Centre, Tuesday 24 March 5.30-7pm. Entry is free.
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