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Robyn Webster

image Robyn Webster

How would you describe what you do?

I make sculpture and prints about feeling states in life, generally using harakeke NZ flax as my medium. This links me with the earth, and keeps me in a constant and ongoing relation to/with tangata whenua. So its a bicultural and ecological investigation at the same time as being psychological. I make figures and forms from harakeke and put them through the inks, arranging and rearranging the forms to create open narratives.

What was your most recent project?

An exhibition of my prints which included a sculptural piece made from the masking papers I use as part of my layering process. It was a further integration of my various threads of production, using my last installation at Tai Tapu Sculpture Gardens as the starting point of my imagery. In that I installed a labyrinth of sorts, referencing the archways of both the Arts Centre and of the forest, and slung two horizontal (sleeping/floating) forms within it. I then abandoned it to the weather to break down over the winter as a metaphor for a human existence which flowers and fades yet is still worthwhile. In the prints the labyrinth became architectural, and the life line became the curve of a hill- so that the landscape called the figure out of herself and into the world.

What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?

The very large installation on the South Quad at the Arts Centre in November 2020. It was a series of curtains or skirts, hung to delineate a zigzag path of around 10  x 4 metres. The piece danced beautifully in the wind. A local choreographer with two dancers created a piece in and around it, and performed the piece with a live cellist playing. A life journey piece about moving forward through uncertainty.

What is essential for creatives to have in their life?

Space to work in and somewhere to be able to share the work that results from it.

What inspires you about Ōtautahi?

I love the community, the landscape and the climate.

What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?

Keep going!

What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?

That one must only extrapolate from previously identified fields/ themes. To invent and explore freely from a solid, wide ranging base of knowledge of what has gone before, is to feel truly alive.

What Christchurch artists do you most admire?

Areta Wilkinson, Simon Ogden, Jane Zusters, Euan McLeod

What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?

A couple of dance works by choreographer Fleur de Thier, with whom I have collaborated several times. Her collaboration with Simon Van der Sljis and her Rebound Dance Company piece about Race Day were both thrilling in different ways.

What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?

That having my own art life is what matters the most, but if its invisible, its hard later on to convince people I was there doing it, way back when! Should have done more documenting.

What’s your favourite hidden secret in Ōtautahi?

Not very hidden but very favourite is the Boulder Bay walkway at Taylor’s Mistake…


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