Callum Robertson – Artist


Callum Robertson – Artist

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  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Arts and Entertainment

Callum Robertson Kiwi artist, born in New Zealand in 1975, in Titirangi, Waitakere, in the west of Auckland. In 1996 after studying at the Auckland Institute of Technology he moved to Edinburgh, Scotland. He studied under the tutelage of established Scottish artist Helga Chart.

Callum then complimented his apprenticeship travelling though the Pacific Islands and learning traditional Polynesian art techniques such as Tapa (Bark Cloth) making and traditional dyeing methods.

The art of the region has heavily influenced Robertsons work, incorporating traditional symbols and materials into his works. Callum’s paintings are an explosion of Polynesian colour and design, drawing directly on the cultural influences of his birthplace of New Zealand (Aotearoa).

Callum grew up in Auckland, home to the largest and most mixed population of Polynesian races (including Tongan, Samoan, and Māori). Inspired by the cultural and social diversity of the island races in his hometown. Callum brings together diverse Polynesian motifs and media (paperbark, hessian, wood), onto canvas with pop sensibility to create his unique pieces.

In Polynesian mythology the souls of those recently departed from this world are reunited in ‘Hawaiki’ – the one homeland of the Polynesian peoples. This belief is more or less consistent amongst the different Polynesian Islands of the Pacific, from the New Zealand Māori, to the peoples of Hawaii, Samoa, Tonga and Easter Island. Over time, many people of these (and other) lands have travelled to Aotearoa, where the vibrant blend of cultures has created a unique culture of its own.

Tapa Cloth, made from the inner bark of certain trees, is one of the most distinctive products of the cultures of the Pacific Islands. In most of the islands of Polynesia from Hawaii in the north across the Pacific to New Zealand in the south, the manufacture of bark cloth is an ancient craft, which has been practiced for thousands of years. This traditional material, for so many of these cultures, has been used as a vehicle for creative expression and from here Callum draws much inspiration.

Callum’s works combine recognised motifs from traditional bark cloth decoration with bright colours and a sense of vibrancy inspired by the natural beauty of the Pacific Islands. Favouring multiple panels, Callum Robertson marries primitive materials such as hessian, bark cloth, and flax with an original use of sand, wood and brass. The result of this unusual combination breaks the physical confines of the canvas, compelling the eye to define the relationship between panels and the space that separates them.

Callum has spent the past decade living in Spain and previously in Turkey, and France where he presented Hawaiki to Aotearoa, a study of Polynesian art. From Hawaiki the mythical homeland of all Polynesian peoples, to Aotearoa, modern-day New Zealand. By combining traditional tribal motifs not usually seen alongside one another, Callum attempts to represent today’s New Zealanders seeking a modern day Hawaiki.

Connect with Callum and view more of his work at

Image gallery