Top image: Robyn Daw
VALE ROBYN DAW
For our friend . . .
One of many admirable qualities possessed by Robyn Daw was a generosity of spirit, a widely appreciated openness to give professional advice to anyone in the art world. There was also an ability to celebrate the success of others without prejudice. And it is certainly true to say that she had a broad range of rich experiences in the art world to draw upon, as an artist, arts writer, curator, art museum educator, program manager and policy developer.
Robyn had integrity and intelligence and she resisted compromise. You couldn’t easily get away with much with Robyn without, rightfully, the validity of what you were saying being questioned. In this way she invited responsibility and conversations were lively and enjoyable.
Robyn’s joy and enthusiasm for art and life were infectious, she was witty with a finely tuned sense of humour, she was a thoughtful leader and mentor, and she was elegant and stylish. (As we all noted: alluring jewellery and clothes, especially shoes.)
Many of us within and without the art world admired her for these professional and personal qualities. Women in particular say she gave them confidence when they were beginning in the arts. All of these attributes resulted in a wide circle of professional associates many of whom became close friends. In short, as colleagues have repeated, Robyn was a beautiful person.
We admire her for her exhibition curating in, and prolific writing on art, craft and design — contemporary and historical — and for her leadership roles at Craft Australia and Craft Queensland (now Artisan), and more recently at Arts Queensland (for five years).
For the last decade Robyn was Creative Industries Program Leader at Logan City Council, where she worked to invigorate cultural engagement and development in that community.
Previously, for a collective period of 10 years, Robyn worked in public programming and education at the National Gallery of Australia, QUT Art Museum and Queensland Art Gallery.
A strong interest in the art and culture of textiles led her to work as a weaver at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne (city of her birth) from 1986 to ’89, followed by a French government scholarship to research textiles in France. In 2001 she curated the much respected ‘Material Witness: 15th Tamworth Fibre Textile Biennial’ for the Tamworth City Gallery. A large tapestry by her, Speed 2001, is held in the collection of Ararat Gallery/Textile Art Museum Australia.
While Robyn believed in the power of art for a better life, more broadly she was passionate about people, her garden, music and good food — the latter often supplied by her long-time partner and artist, Ian Friend.
It was with Ian that ‘ArtBunker’ was formed in 2006 and, working collaboratively, a range of projects were produced including a QUT billboard project, When I leave the clouds, and together with UK group Original Field of Architecture, ArtBunker’s Note to Architect was a finalist in Australian Tapestry Workshop’s ‘Tapestry Design Prize for Architects 2021’.
Robyn’s legacy to arts and culture in Australia lives on.
Ian Were, Brisbane, January 2022
On the Origin of Art, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA)
5 November 2016 to 17 April 2017, Hobart
Guest curators: Steven Pinker, Geoffrey Miller, Brian Boyd and Mark Changizi, four bio-cultural scientist-philosophers ‘working at the forefront, the cutting edge – or whatever other spatial metaphor you choose that implies they are asking the biggest and most exciting questions about the origin of art . . .’ [Images]
[30 secs of] American sculptor and performance artist Nick Cave‘s (USA, b.1959) ‘Heard’, at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art, Sunday 22 January 2017. A group of vibrant sculptural horses brought to life by dancers; brilliant. Part of the GOMA Turns 10 exhibition, ‘Sugar Spin: You, Me, Art and Everything’, 3 December 2016 to 17 April 2017.
Viktor&Rolf: Fashion Artists (National Gallery of Victoria, 21 Oct 16-26 Feb 17) explores Viktor&Rolf’s radical conception of ‘wearable art’. Since forming their creative partnership in 1992, Dutch team Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren have gained critical acclaim for their cerebral and witty approach to haute couture. The exhibition, which coincides with the fashion label’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 2017, explores the elements that make Viktor&Rolf designs unique in the contemporary fashion world.
Batu Ferringhi, 12 September 2014, 4.45pm
‘Only the fathomlessly rich suffer from Perfection Anxiety. There is no relativity to wealth. It’s all absolutes. It’s either impeccable, the best, the rarest, or it might as well be Walmart. . . It’s also the anxiety of maintaining perfection once it’s achieved, and, as a result, constant discontent. A crooked Picasso, an unplumped scatter cushion, a faint mark on the handwoven silk wallpaper can drive them to a frothing distraction.
And when you’ve got the best of everything, when you have your tea flown in from a micro-garden in Darjeeling and it still tastes rather like tea, when you’ve designed your own scent made from the squeezed glands of civets and the petals of rare orchids and that fails to give you the high—“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer”—then you’re reduced to collecting art. Art is good for those with Perfection Anxiety because you never get to the end of it. . . No picture bought for more than $50 million has ever made a profit, a contemporary auction expert tells me authoritatively, but it doesn’t stop people from buying them.’
A A Gill, in Vanity Fair, May 2014 [Posted 30 September 2014]
Queensland Centre of Photography opening, 4 May 2013, images by David Broker (Canberra Contemporary Art Space) who opened the exhibition. [More here]