Artist Biography:

Childhood memories of spending afternoons an art studio of the lady down the road from her parent’s butcher shop formed Robyn’s first creative memories and a love of art as a place to express, enjoy and explore. This is what Robyn seeks to replicate in her art classes, a place where a love of art and creativity can be fostered and explored where Contemporary Art sits alongside Art in a historical context with fun and very much every day. A mother of two secondary teenagers now aged 17 and 14 who faced pressures of relocating to three countries during in their formative childhood years, Robyn hopes to expand teen minds to a creative thinking process and a life-long love of art and creativity.

Robyn studied Painting and Sculpture at East Sydney Technical College and commenced working in the clothing industry in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs. By evening she studied Fashion Illustration at both East Sydney Technical College and later at Central St Martins in London. With over 15 years’ experience in the clothing industry, Robyn then studied Interior Decoration with the Whitehouse School. In 2002 following the birth of her first son Robyn returned to her first love of Art to study a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Arts) at Sydney College of the Arts, completing with a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Arts) with Hons. Class 1 with a Print Media major and a minor in Object, Art and Design - Glass. Robyn went on to commence a Master of Fine Art at Sydney College of the Arts and was told to apply for a PhD when she had to relocate her family to London for her husband’s work in the film industry. Shortly after settling in London, home of her partner’s parents, they found themselves moving to Wellington for work on the Hobbit Trilogy. During the 6 yrs. Robyn has lived in Wellington, NZ she has been a single wall artist for the New Zealand Art Show; interviewed in Artist Magazine (NZ); participated in a local community artist trail events, Robyn has done work for BraveArt, CanSurvive a charity supporting women surviving breast cancer and her work has been exhibited in many galleries around Wellington including the the Academy of Fine Art, New Zealand. Robyn was honored to work as a Colourisation Specialist and Photoshop Artist for filmmaker Sir Peter Jackson on the 100th Centenary of Gallipoli, WW1, his exhibition at the Dominion Museum/War Museum Wellington which is on permanent display. Robyn is currently practicing art from her studio in Lyall Bay Wellington and plans to return home to Australia in 2019. Hopefully as a qualified Secondary Visual Arts Teacher through CSU.

Robyn works primarily within Print Media, formed from a basis of hand drawn and line drawing, photography, Photoshop or paint. She brings this work into different mediums depending on the desired outcome. Robyn employs various methods including Screen Print, Etching, Lithography, or Digital media and often a combination of these and other mediums. Visual influences include decorative patterning of textiles and wallpaper, images from the media, her own photography of people, places, plants and animals and painting. A merging together of mediums, skills and materials of past and present, together forming key inspiration for her studio work. Robyn sees that communication design is increasingly accepted as a contemporary art form and our understanding of art and design and their function in society is transforming. Graphic design, interior design, art and architecture, illustrators, photographers, fashion and industrial/product designers are merging together with a whole new set of skills and tools, traditional analog and digital. Robyn’s work is about the merging of the skills modern and traditional and the merging of our creative society. She has recently returned to a childhood skill of ceramic art and is a member of the Potters Society where she throws pottery and is currently looking on a series that merges this with print or glass work.

Artist Statement:

My art practice and research draws upon an interdisciplinary study of identity through memory and culture, collectively and individually.   I play with traditional methods and practices of art and pare this with the ever evolving technologies in art practice, interweaving the two where suitable. My intention, often, is often to blur the boundaries of new and old, privacy and public, global and local, time and space.

My art research has explored responsibility of the dissemination of information, the power of the archive and the creation of history, memory and identity.  The rising power of photography and photographic journalism, armed with the speed, immediacy, dissemination and proliferation that the internet offers us all.  Distributed as they are created, across the world smashing previous barriers and boundaries, stored for all time, easy recall. Effectively blurring the lines of time, of past, present future.  I have invited my viewer to question the cultivated perception of happiness, contentment and subjective wellbeing by recognising how perception is fabricated and distilled through the cleverly franchised machine of mediated technology.

On an individual level I explore the effect of pressure placed on people in varying aspects of their lives.  Career, family, relationships and most importantly the pressures created by the self.  Technology, pace and consumption inform my artwork with attention to the paradox between how lives are lead in order to reach a perceived happiness.  At a community level I look at the construct of collective social memory and identity, now moulded through the immediacy of technology, the dissemination and proliferation of messaging via mass media, the creation, collection, dissemination and archiving of cultural and collective memories with and without governmental influences.   At a global level I have looked at the dependency and sometimes-detrimental relationships of these groups, giving reason to examine cause and effect.

To date, my artwork has represented a visual response to an anthropological study of contemporary Australians and of the Australians of generations past.  Culture, heritage, shared information and knowledge, perception and belief central to my work.  A focus on how choice, lifestyle, ideals, intentions, hopes and dreams are formed, developed, shared and expressed at various times throughout history.  My research highlights the importance, need and co-dependence of groups, clusters, family, community, nations and global relationships. My work has questioned the percieved achievements through the struggles of generations past; was it all they hoped for? Was it as they intended?  Is this the better world they perceived?  Has technology made life easier, bigger, brighter, better?   However, having lived in New Zealand for the past 6 years my eyes have been opened to Pacific Island cultures and I am starting to feel educated enough on a community, local and personal level to begin to bring this into my art practice.

My work is a reflection on the connection between human identity, memory, and technology in disseminating, ordering and re-presenting memories; personal, historical and cultural.  My research, while seemingly complex and wide reaching, operates at personal, cultural and global levels, ultimately mirroring the internal, personal struggles of my individual experience of the everyday reconciliation of life originally a working mother in middle class Australia and of identity at a personal, community, national and global level, now as an artist mum living in New Zealand and all that brings.

This artwork for Chifley House has been a unique project which has created quite a far reaching combination and realisation for me.  I'm not fully resolved in what the outcome will be but the research has been an artwork in itself, a joyous exploration into the story of Elizabeth Chifley, of Mrs Spencer and of me.

This artwork talks about the supporting role of Mrs Elizabeth "Lizzie" Gibson Chifley, the wife of the Prime Minister of Australia; the pioneering role of Mrs Spencer the lady whose hatbox I found in an op shop roughly 80 yrs later... and of my role in our modern age global lifestyle where more families are living away from thier home towns. Mrs Spencers hatbox journey is of course most similar to my own, in relocating from Sydney to Wellington. But this artwork speaks of support role, home life, joy, adventure, difficulties, uncertainties and with relocation the differences a foreign land, or immigrants bring - no matter how close to home. In this way this work talks of the blurring of lines across locations, generations and suggests the hatbox can be on quite an adventure when sitting on top of a wardrobe much as it is in the Chifley home of Mrs Chifley. For each woman mentioned the conditions and times in their lives are different, essentially the life journey they travelled, the supporting roles to my mind is much the same. Each with a hatbox, theirs are very similar, mine is large, round and covered in black velvet tied with a rich pink satin ribbon to keep it closed. I have had a lot of fun researching this piece, I hope you enjoy this storytelling artwork.

Sydney to Wellington Rough Seas ahead.
Size: 140cm x 40cm
Medium: Mixed Media - Hand Painted on Canvas, Photography, Lino Print, Photoshop, Digital Fine Art Print. 

Robyn Armstrong Sydney to Wellington Rough Seas Ahead