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Robyn Webster


I am interested in the contrast of rigidity and flexibility and how it affects form in sculpture. Alongside this I have been inventing solutions to seemingly impossible problems -  making fine art that is environmentally sensitive from a craft material that is strongly associated with Maori, as a Pakeha. I was trained in Tikanga and Raranga at Whakatutu Marae in the mid 1980's, which informed my approach hugely- then attended Art School in Dunedin by that decade's end. Since then I have made and exhibited many times while supporting myself as an art teacher. Recently I have become a full time artist and am enjoying having more time to explore the various ways these ideas can be developed.


Shared Lines: Aotearoa in Japan 2020

Archeology of Myself.jpe

Archaeology, Harakeke Imprint and Ink on Paper. 2019 :38 cms x 28cms


The Archaeology of Myself, Harakeke Imprint and Ink on Paper 2019: 38cms x 28cms

My practice continually develops in response to available material both physical and otherwise. Current practice blends finger woven harakeke figures and forms with ink and paper. My work builds meaning around the processes of opening and trusting myself and my materials. Figures appear in my hands, I place them in an ink field, I print, move, shadow and reprint them in layers of memory and story, thereby discovering something hitherto unseen. The randomness of life and the opportunities of image making come together into an under-song of traps, nets, funnels, cell forms, links, animals plants and people. 

Some of my harakeke forms are tiny, and some are room sized or bigger. For printmaking the forms are flattened, and this informs how I approach the larger works. There is always interaction between the various threads of this practice." Robyn Webster Artist (word press website)


Shared Lines: Wellington 2017 / Kaikōura 2019


Feeling states of Home I & II, 2015, , Harakeke, Ink on Paper

I have been working with harakeke since I was introduced to it in my late teens, and was very fortunate to later meet and work under some of Aotearoa’s top weavers. I pay particular tribute to Heeni Kerekere, Erenora Puketapu Hetet, and Emily Schuster. From these dedicated and talented women I learned about respect for another culture,the environment, and most especially,for a plant. This has continued to informed my practice. I graduated with honors in Sculpture from Otago Art School in my early 30’s, making large installations with waste plastics, discarded wire and beach detritus. However my love of natural materials drew me back to harakeke, and I have been developing a sculptural language of my own since then in this medium. The harakeke used in these works comes from my own Pa Harakeke, and the varieties used are Tapamangu and Awahou.

Our cultures have a changing relationship with nature, both the “nature”  within us, and us as a part of nature. In these works, both the installation and the prints, I have considered ideas around Home. My own body as my home, house and home, territory and home ground, rootedness. Connectedness with Nature. We were certainly affected by the earthquakes as the ground became less dependable, Home became less safe and secure. Our relationship with even the idea of Nature continues to be altered.


Shared Lines: Christchurch / Sendai 2012 - 2013

robyn's 063.jpg

‘Microcosm’  Harakeke,muka, nikau fibre, fibreoptic cord, dyes, monofilament. Installation at Our City Otautahi,in conjunction with University of Canterbury Department of Physics; September 2010; closed early by September’s quake.

Much of my work is constructed in the air, and made to be displayed hanging like this in free space. This is partly about the alternative / feminist nature of my practice- hanging free but being never-the -less connected to the wider culture that (literally) supports it.

Because the structures are light, they are responsive to air movement, and more hauntingly, to the movement of the structure they are attached to. They become active when the Earth moves. 


 These particular forms are very light in more ways than one- they leave a tiny carbon footprint, often being made from plants I grow myself. They are weighted with heart shaped stones I find when out walking in the mountains, beaches and riverbeds I like to spend time in. In this way they include the incidence of chance and good luck. They also represent the natural world that gave rise to this much-used symbol of the centre of human existence.

Technology intervenes-my association with AGResearch Institute at Lincoln, Canterbury, has resulted in my experimentation with highly processed harakeke cord in conjunction with resins, which thus creates a biopolymer. This began as a research project, a search for a sustainable alternative to fiberglass; the rigidity and longevity it has lent my otherwise ephemeral forms has provided a new direction in my work where rigidity and durability in an outdoor setting has now become possible.

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