Robin White

Aotearoa New Zealand / Kiribati, b.1946
Ngāti Awa, Māori

Florence and Harbour Cone

  • 1974
  • Oil on canvas
  • Purchased 1975 with assistance from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council
  • 950 x 640mm
  • 75/45
  • View on google maps

By the 1970s Robin White had resolved her realist style of painting, which followed in the tradition of Rita Angus. Angus’s Portrait of Betty Curnow played an important part in White’s life, as she recalls the impact it had on her as a child when her mother Florence would take her to the Auckland Art Gallery, both for the powerful solidity of its seated figure and for the precedent Angus set as a female New Zealand artist. Florence and Harbour Cone was completed when Florence came to stay with her daughter on the Otago Peninsula for several weeks, to help about the house and look after the artist’s newborn baby, enabling White to continue to spend time in her studio painting. (1969 Comeback Special 27 August – 6 November 2016)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Brought to light, November 2009- 22 February 2011

    With her hard-working hands resting ‘just so’ in the lap of her clean white apron, Robin White’s recently widowed mother bears a pensive look that was typical, according to White, of Florence in her thoughtful moments. Described by White as a ‘quiet but fairly forceful person in her own way’, Florence wears a Bahá’í badge that reflects the artist’s own commitment to that faith. ‘When people do appear in my paintings’ White noted, ‘they’re always people for whom I have a special feeling ... I couldn’t imagine painting anyone I didn’t like.’

  • This is a portrait of Robin White’s recently widowed mother. She has a pensive and slightly sad look typical, according to White, of Florence in her quiet moments. Harbour Cone, Portobello, is on the Otago Peninsula. The clean white apron and Florence’s hard working hands at rest on her lap symbolise the domestic nature of her life and the Baha’i badge reflects White’s own commitment to that faith. She has used a flattened style, typical of the realist revival of the mid-1960s. During this period a number of New Zealand artists experimented with this style, often associated with the Canterbury School of Art. White studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University, She has held regular solo and group exhibitions of paintings, prints and drawings since 1970. In 1982 she went to live on the remote atoll of Tarawa, Kiribati, as a volunteer to assist the Gilbertese people. This is still her principal home, although she returns for periods of teaching and working in New Zealand. (Label date unknown, probably 2003)