WAIKATO, NGĀTI PĀOA, NGĀRUAHINE, TE ARAWA
Born Kaingaroa, New Zealand (1974)
Multidisciplinary artist (crochet)
Rudi Robinson grew up surrounded by whānau in the small forestry town of Kaingaroa, Bay of Plenty. Rudi says he was born with a chainsaw in his hands and is now as proficient with a crochet hook as he is a chainsaw.
As a child, Rudi would spend countless hours exploring the forest or out in the shed at the back of his house where he would create. This is where he says he began a love of making. “We had to make do with very little, so it forced me to use my imagination to bring my creations to life.”
After leaving the settlement of Kaingaroa to pursue work and to provide for his young family. Rudi graduated with a Diploma in Adult Education and Training in Rotorua and worked with NZ Welding School as a Welding Tutor and then as a Welding Supervisor. This gave him an avenue to inspire rangatahi in the trades.
In 2014 Rudi worked alongside acclaimed artist Eugene Kara to set up the first Māori foundry at Te Puia Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Rotorua. Here they worked on creating the first bronze cast whatarangi under the initiative "Māori Tū" led by the Iwi Chairs Forum to demonstrate Aotearoa's support for the UN’s Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
In 2014 Rudi met his future wife Lissy Cole and where a creative force was realised. Moving to Auckland Rudi learned to crochet and began working with Lissy on crochet installations in their community. The Joyride was their first large project in 2019 which involved covering their entire car with crochet to inspire joy in throughout Auckland and taking their kaupapa to the streets.
This led Rudi and Lissy to explore the idea of utilising contemporary techniques with customary Māori carving to create structural forms. In 2020 they showcased their experimental work in a joint exhibition Ka Puawaitia – Coming to Fruition at Corban Estate Art Centre. Since then, the duo has been in fifteen exhibitions. In 2021, they were in shows including Auaha Haukura at Fresh Gallery, Whanau Marama at Commercial Bay, Hohou Te Rongo at University of Waikato, E Tiaki at Art Haus Orakei, Toi ō Tuku Iho at Auckland International Gallery. In addition, crochet workshops include ten weeks at The Collective and in the community as part of every exhibition.
Their subsequent major work, Wharenui Harikoa, is a large-scale crocheted wharenui that aims to transform intergenerational trauma into deeply felt joy, one loop at a time. The plans for this work include travelling throughout Aotearoa and the world, creating a global impact of aroha.
Weave strands of your whānau into Wharenui Harikoa and support us in our journey of transforming intergenerational trauma into deeply felt joy. It's as easy as buying a ball of yarn.