Exhibition honours artist Robin White

Robin White. Fish and chips, Maketu. 1975.

cag Robin White In the Studio

Robin White in the studio.

cag 1979 66 Robin White This is me at Kaitangata

Robin White. This is me at Kaitangata. 1979.

Exhibition honours artist Robin White

A retrospective exhibition honouring one of New Zealand’s most decorated and best-loved contemporary artists, Dame Robin White, opens this weekend at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū.

In the last of four shows across Aotearoa, Robin White: Te Whanaketanga | Something is Happening Here will showcase about 50 iconic, diverse and innovative works.

The exhibition, developed by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, profiles White’s celebrated 50-year career in contemporary art and demonstrates the cultural significance of her work in Aotearoa and beyond.

Co-curators Dr Sarah Farrar, Head of Curatorial and Learning at Auckland Art Gallery, and Dr Nina Tonga, Curator Contemporary Art at Te Papa, sourced the collection from public art galleries and generous private owners throughout the country.

Dr Farrar says White’s paintings of the 1970s drew acclaim for their stylised depiction of everyday, small-town Kiwi life.

“Inspired by her surroundings, White’s iconic paintings feature local landscapes, distinctive buildings, and communities and people close to her.”

Included in the exhibition are famous early works like Sam Hunt at the Portobello Pub; Mere and Siulolovao, Otago Peninsula; Fish and Chips, Maketu; and the self-portrait, This is me at Kaitangata.

The collection also includes drawings, woodblock prints, woven works and tapa, bringing together – in the words of the artist – a “family reunion” of works.

Dr Tonga says White’s versatility as a contemporary artist speaks for itself in the exhibition.

“The multiple series of large-scale tapa cloth White developed with local Fijian and Tongan artists are extraordinary. Her exploration into different art forms and her collaborative and innovative practice have been significantly influenced by the places she’s lived, worked and travelled across the Pacific.”

Director of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū Blair Jackson says the exhibition presents a rare opportunity for people to experience White’s extensive and varied collection of works first-hand and learn more about an incredible New Zealand artist.

“We have two artist talk sessions on the exhibition opening day, where Dame Robin White will be joined by Dr Nina Tonga and Dr Sarah Farrar, which will be very special,” Jackson says.

Commemorating the exhibition is the publication Robin White: Something is Happening Here, which was published by Te Papa Press and Auckland Art Gallery and released in May 2022. Edited by Sarah Farrar, Jill Trevelyan and Nina Tonga, the book was a finalist in the 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Robin White: Te Whanaketanga | Something is Happening Here
Sat 22 Jul – Sun 5 Nov
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū



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