Dame Robin White

b. 1946

Robin White (Ngāti Awa) was born in Te Puke. Her art-making was encouraged by art teacher May Smith, at Epsom Girls Grammar School. She received a Ministry of Education studentship to study at the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Art, graduating in 1967. The studentship included a period of time teaching for which she learnt screen-printing.

After a brief time working at Mana College, Porirua, she moved to the Otago Peninsular as a full-time artist. Here her work developed toward a hard-edged realist style. In 1982, already highly regarded painter and screen-maker, White moved with her family to Kiribati to live in a Baháʼí faith community.

In Kiribati her work evolved to reflect this different physical and social environment. Merging western art practice with pacific culture, her practice became collaborative and traversed a range of unexpected materials including woven pandanus leaf images.

In 1999 she returned to New Zealand and continues to collaborate with local experts on mixed media piupiu and tapa cloth.

In 2017 she was made an Arts Foundation Laureate.

See also:

Dame Robin White (Ngāti Awa), ‘Seven Hills’ (1980), Dunedin Hospital (G725), CBD, Ōtepoti Dunedin

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021