Robin White is mainly known for her earlier images of iconic buildings set in landscape, portraits of family or friends, and symbolic 'New Zealand' toys like the Buzzy Bee. Immediately recognisable, these feature bright light, unmodulated flat planes, and clear shapes and colour, following a tradition of 'Pacific light' and continuing the regionalism perpetuated by Christopher Perkins, Rita Angus, Michael Smither, and Don Binney.Read More
Examples include Mangaweka (1973), Fish and Chips, Maketu (1975), Sam's Place, Bottle Creek (1971), and Florence and Harbour Cone (1975).
In the 1980s after a brief period in Dunedin, White moved to Kiribati and developed an interest in woodblocks and local imagery. This influence is evident in works such as The Maneaba. 5. From: Beginners' guide to Gilbertese (1983), I am doing the washing in the bathroom (1984), and This Far and No Further (1992).
In 1996, after a fire destroyed the contents of her studio, White became involved with community pandanus leaf weaving, barkcloth (tapa), and piupiu projects, realising that a community effort could achieve spectacular results. Three years later, White returned to Aotearoa New Zealand and helped set up a group of Tongan and Fijian collaborators for weaving in Masterton. In these very large wall-sized works, we often see internal architectural spaces instead of volcanic landscapes, with austere pieces of block furniture holding jugs or the occasional kerosene lamp. Reminiscent of Japanese prints, these barkcloth images with earth colours present delicate decorative patterns along the rectangular orthogonal sections of domestic wall.