Watch: Robin White – The making of ‘That Vase’

In 2019, Dame Robin White invited a small team from Te Papa to visit her on location in Lautoka Fiji as she completed That Vase, a masi (Fijian tapa) made with her collaborator Tamari Cabeikanacea.

This trip was a rare opportunity for Curator Contemporary Art Nina Tonga, author Jill Trevelyan and Manager Collection Imaging Michael O’Neill to document the artists at work.

Over the course of a week, the team gained insight into the artist’s creative process and witnessed the careful and repetitive application of draudrau (stencils) on the masi gradually building the image of an empty living room. The room was partly inspired by the living room where the work was made with the artists replicating details such as the neighbouring sugarcane plantation and the tiled pattern of the lino flooring.

“When you create something the space in which you make it becomes very special. It's almost like the room remembers you. You go back into that room and you feel at home again because it's a place of creativity, a place of laughter, a place of working together.”

— Robin White, 2019