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Robin White to exhibit at the United Nations Ocean Conference

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Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14

This June, significant work by New Zealand artist Dame Robin White will be on display in the United Nations Headquarters, New York.

Robin White

E Rawa Na Bula Mai Na Wasawasa

Dame Robin’s Kermadec and Fijian oceanic inspired tapa works will be installed at the United Nations for the historic Ocean Conference being co-hosted by the governments of Fiji and Sweden from 5-9 June in support of implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (Conserve and sustainably the oceans, seas and marine resources). With an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s oceans heavily affected by unsustainable practices, global leaders are gathering to renew momentum towards the conservation and sustainability of the world’s oceans.

Robin has been invited to show her work at the United Nations by the Ocean Conference host Fiji, and the office of the President of the General Assembly.

Robin White

Siu I Moana I

This will be the first showing of Robin’s latest collaborative tapa – E Rawa Na Bula Mai Na Wasawasa / Life Comes from the Ocean – recently completed in Fiji in anticipation of the Ocean Conference. Working together with two Fijian artists, the tapa is about the interconnectedness of all things, and the central role of the ocean in determining the health of our planet.

Alongside this new work will be the monumental triptych Sui i moana inspired by Robin’s 2011 voyage to the Kermadec ocean region, the most remote part of New Zealand. Two of these tapa, created with Tongan artist Ruha Fafita, speak of the things that bind Aotearoa/New Zealand and the Pacific Islands together and the practice of reciprocity and exchange that characterises Oceania. The third large black tapa honours all those who have tragically lost their lives on Rangitāhua (Raoul Island) since the days of its discovery – including Polynesian voyagers, colonists, Tokelauan slaves, and conservation workers.

Robin White

Rangitahua (Siu I Moana III)

Robin White is one of New Zealand’s most prestigious visual artists. Describing herself as “being from New Zealand, also from the Pacific. I’m an islander too”.

Working with the traditional and living art form of painted barkcloth, commonly known as tapa, Robin has always been concerned with people and locality; absorbing and honouring customary processes and materials. Robin collaborates communally and closely with weavers and artists from around the Pacific to make large-scale tapa that are deeply engaged with her experience of a place, its people and the culture.

Robin White and her oceanic tapa are being supported on their voyage to the United Nations by a grant from Creative New Zealand and The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Robin White

Siu I Moana II

Artist’s Biography

Dame Robin White is a painter, printmaker, and photographer, based in Masterton, after spending 17 years living in Kiribati. She continues to work with weavers and artists from the Pacific. Robin has work in the collections of all major public art galleries in New Zealand, and in galleries across Australia, and was recently named as a 2012 Distinguished Alumna of The University of Auckland.

Sui i moana was made in Tonga, in collaboration with Ruha Fifita and with assistance from the Langafonua Women’s Association on Tongatapu. It is on loan from the University of Auckland Art Collection. New work was made in Fiji, in collaboration with Leba Vosaki and Tamari Cabeikaanacea. Robin White is represented by Peter McLeavey Gallery, Wellington.


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About Author

Louisa is an international communications professional, whose career spans media, government, university, and non-government organisation (NGO) sectors. She was the Communications Manager for WWF-New Zealand (World Wide Fund for Nature) for two years, before moving onto a fabulous opportunity with the NZ Government. She has extensive experience in the areas of media, communications and public relations. Her pen, camera and sense of humour have led her to wonderful work locations throughout Australia, Canada, USA, Solomon Islands, Vietnam, Cambodia, New Zealand and Peru. She was raised on a sheep and cattle farm in Outback Australia. Her specialty sectors are the environment (forest/marine/species conservation), crisis communications (biosecurity, floods and cyclones), food safety, and agriculture (livestock and broad-acre farming). She is an Open Water-accredited diver and has explored underwater ecosystems in the Solomon Islands, Thailand and Cambodia

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