University of Auckland Honours Dame Robin White

University honours eminent artist

One of this country’s greatest visual artists is to receive an award which recognises her contribution to the arts in New Zealand.

Dame Robin White has been named as a 2012 Distinguished Alumna of The University of Auckland and will be honoured at a dinner to be held on Friday 9 March.

Of Māori and Pakeha descent, she was born in Te Puke but went on to study at Elam School of Fine Arts where she was mentored by Colin McCahon and completed a Diploma in Fine Arts in 1967.

She graduated from the Auckland Secondary Teachers’ College in 1968 and taught at Mana College in Porirua, living at Paremata as part of the creative community at Bottle Creek that included the poet Sam Hunt.

Dame Robin became one of the most prominent New Zealand painters of the 1970s, producing numerous iconic New Zealand images. A full-time painter and printmaker since 1972, she is recognised as a key figure in developing the New Zealand “regionalist” style. Her work often depicts people in rural landscapes and is a blend of Pakeha, Māori and Pacific influences.

In 1982 she and her husband, Michael Fudakowski, and their eight-year-old son went to Kiribati to work with the Baha’i community. For 17 years they lived on the island of Tarawa where two more children were born.

Dame Robin, who is now based in Masterton, continues to work with weavers and artists from the Pacific, as well as continuing to make prints, draw, paint and take photographs.

In 2003 she was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, an honour taken up as a damehood in 2009. In 2006, she received an award from the Belgian Samii-Housseinpour Foundation for outstanding achievement in the arts, which was established to encourage excellence by followers of the Baha’i Faith.

In May 2011 Robin travelled with a group of artists on the HMNZS Otago to the Kermadec Islands, the most remote part of New Zealand. The artwork inspired by this voyage is included in the exhibition Kermadec currently showing at the New Zealand Maritime Museum in Auckland until 2 July.

Robin produced the Kermadec work in Tonga, in collaboration with Ruha Fifita and with assistance from the Langafonua Women’s Association on Tongatapu. The large tapa pieces produced for the Kermadec show contain contemporary elements beside customary forms and patterns.

Dame Robin has represented New Zealand at numerous international exhibitions and her works are included in public collections around New Zealand and, significantly in the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

"Robin White is one of Elam's most illustrious graduates and we take great pride in her achievements," says Head of Elam Derrick Cherrie. "Her Distinguished Alumni Award is a fitting accolade from her alma mater in recognition of her eminent career as a visual artist."

The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the Elam School of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and Planning, the Centre for Art Research (CAR), the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.

Monday, 5 March 2012, 7:52 pm
Press Release: Auckland University

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