Barbara Robinson - Unearthed: A Love Affair With Kauri

24 January - 1 March 2020

‘Unearthed’ is a story of history, events and change. It began with large stands of kauri trees cut, transported to Auckland, milled and laid as cobbles for Karangahape Road in the early 1900’s. Soaked in creosote to withstand trams they were later covered in bitumen.

‘Unearthed’ is composed of exterior slices of kauri that were left by an ingot making process for Headland Sculpture in the Gulf 2017 by Matte Harte and Anton Forde.

In ‘Unearthed they experience their final intervention and Barbara has visually documented the kauri journey and elevated them into artistic artefacts that respect this ancient, endangered medium.


Barbara Robinson was born in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1950 and taught visual art to thousands of students from Year 1 to Year 13. During her 35 years of teaching she explored almost every art media, style and genre and exposed her students to a richly tactile form of expression. Time constraints meant her creativity was limited to small series of work, annual group exhibitions and local art sales.

Since moving to Waiheke Island 6 years ago, a supportive, like minded community where resourcefulness, upcycling and authenticity are celebrated, has encouraged her to repurpose found materials. The latest ground for her art is salvaged kauri cobbles which have a deep personal significance, as her reason for leaving Christchurch after the 2011 Earthquakes, was the wanton demolition of heritage buildings. When she was offered parts of ancient cobbles from Karangahape Road, she was ecstatic at the creative opportunities they posed and the subsequent history they revealed.