Robyn Webster relies on nature's resources and modern technology to produce works which are contemporary yet old world. Working with harakeke fibre (flax), she creates vessel-like forms to express ideas about life's journeys and to explore experiences and emotions.
Her practice is informed by traditional methods of basket weaving, and continues to reinforce her affinity for plant material as an environmentally-sustainable medium. American artist John McQueen (b. 1943), known for his natural material works, is one source of inspiration.
Some of Webster's sculptures resemble baskets and give rise to ideas about hunting and gathering, then sharing the bounty. Others mimic human forms and are almost Gaudiesque.
Webster's artistic explorations are driven by her need to better understand and accept life's experiences and to provide ways for others to comprehend their own. She believes that shapes, like words, allow us to make sense of a thing – from the familiar to the abstract or conceptual.
In a recent series exhibited at Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden (March 2015), seven organic forms represent a lifespan. Webster asks “what could a whole life look like, as a shape? That journey, from out of the ether, through life, back out into the ether.” Some of the works prompt questions about what happens to the form once a life has ended. Some are about before and after – “the transition that comes with time passing.” Others are concerned with the thought process, or about processing grief.
Webster's materials are sourced from AgResearch at Lincoln University where researchers are looking at flax as a sustainable alternative to fiberglass. For Webster, flax’s flexibility enables finger weaving construction, and resin lends the work weight and rigidity.
Webster was Head of Art at Riccarton High School, Christchurch for a number of years where she enjoyed nurturing the creativity of the next generation of artists. She participates in group and solo shows in New Zealand. Webster has exhibited at CoCA, Christchurch, Sumner Art Window, Christchurch, Sculpture on the Peninsula and Dunedin Public Art Gallery.
Her work is held in private and public collections. These include University of Canterbury, College of Education, Riccarton High School, MacAndrew Intermediate School and Otago Polytechnic School of Art.