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Robin White (artist)

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Title: Robin White (artist)  
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Subject: 20th-century New Zealand painters, Colin McCahon, May Smith (textile designer), New Zealand painters, New Zealand artists
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Robin White (artist)

Dame Robin White (born Te Puke, 1946) is a New Zealand painter and printmaker, recognised as a key figure in the regionalist movement of 20th century New Zealand art.[1][2]


  • Early life 1
  • Education 2
  • Career 3
  • Recent exhibitions 4
  • Awards and recognitions 5
  • Further information 6
  • References 7

Early life

White grew up in the Epsom suburb of Auckland, the youngest of seven children. Her father, a builder, was of Māori descent.[3]


White completed a Diploma of Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts in 1967.[2]

Along with her contemporaries Richard Killeen and Ian Scott, White was taught by Colin McCahon at Elam and has cited him as an important influence on her development as commitment as an artist.[4]


After art school White moved to Bottle Creek, Paremata in 1969, and taught art at Mana College.[3] Here White taught herself to screenprint, motivated by a desire to make her art more accessible and affordable. She has frequently reproduced her oil paintings (such as Mangaweka (1973) in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) as prints.[4]

While at Bottle Creek White befriended local writers, including Sam Hunt, Jack Lasenby, Fleur Adcock and Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, and historian Michael King.[3]

Art historian Jill Trevelyan notes that it was while living at Bottle Creek that White developed her characteristic style, as she ‘began to paint the local landscape using crisp, rhythmic outlines, strong light, and flat blocks of colours’.[5] White became well known for these works, which often depicted scenes of small town life, such as flat-bed trucks fish and chip shops.[6]

White is also a member of the Baha’i faith.[7] In 1972 White moved to Portobello, near Dunedin, where she met her husband, also a Baha’i member.[3]

In 1982 White and her family moved to the Republic of Kiribati, living on the island of Tarawera and working with the Baha’i community.[2] Here she continued to make art, working almost entirely in woodcut prints as materials for this method were the most readily available.[4]

White returned to New Zealand in 1999 and is now based in Masterton, where she continues to work with weavers and artists from around the Pacific.[8]

In 2011 White was one of nine New Zealand and Australian artists selected to take part in the ‘Kermadecs’ research trip and exhibition project, organised by the Pew Research Centre.[9]

White’s collaborative exhibition of monumental ngatu (painted tapa) works, made with Tongan artist Ruha Fifita and a group of Tongan women, showed at Pataka Art + Museum in 2014.[10]

White has represented New Zealand at a number of international exhibitions including the sixth International Biennale of Sydney and the first Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art in Brisbane. In 2009 she was featured in the sixth Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art.

Recent exhibitions

Awards and recognitions

In 2003 White was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.[9]

In 2012 White received a University of Auckland Distinguished Alumni Award.[2]

Further information


  1. ^ "Robin White". Find New Zealand Artists. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "In conversation with Robin White". University of Auckland. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d Dekker, Diana (13 December 2014). "Just Robin White". DominionPost. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c McAloon, William (2009). Art at Te Papa. Wellington: Te Papa Press. p. 307.  
  5. ^ Trevelyan, Jill (July 2013). "‘If she can do it, so can I’". Off the wall (2). Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Fish and chips, Maketu". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Morris, Paul (15 November 2012). "Diverse religions - Bahá'ís". Te Ara. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "Robin White". The Kermadecs. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Nine Artists in the South Pacific". The Kermadecs. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Robin White and Ruha Fifita". Pataka Art + Museum. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Island Life: Robin White". Christchurch Art Gallery. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Robin White". City Gallery Wellington. Retrieved 8 March 2015. 
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