Robert’s involvement in the arts started in 1995 when he studied Design and Fine Arts at Waiariki Polytech. He concurrently sustained a successful art practice while studying, specialising in painting. It was after Robert moved to Wellington for work that he began to dabble in film and animation. In 1999 he made the decision to study Arts at Victoria University, graduating in 2001 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Sociology. He has been working in film ever since the early 2000s, receiving training and
Robert’s practice is heavily influenced by his Cook Island Maori and New Zealand Maori heritage. Through discussions with his family and most notably his father Ian George, artist and art educator, about how we as Polynesians see our culture, these ideas have permeated through to Robert’s work. For Robert, his creative output is his connection to his culture. As he does not speak the Cook Island or New Zealand Maori language, this is his way of contributing and participating in the Pacific Contemporary Arts culture. Other influences include the exploration of light and death through symbolism, using motifs and symbols to explore a fascination with the subconscious and psychology stemming from his background in painting influenced by Renaissance and German Expressionism. It is within film that he finds the connections between these themes, seamlessly creating works that explore his plethora of knowledge.
Tau Tupua: The Spirits, which originally exhibited at Fresh Gallery in July of 2014, featured the work of Robert, Toa Taihia and Vela Manusaute. The exhibition coincided with the centenary of World War 1 and paid homage to the under-acknowledged contribution of Niuean soldiers in the New Zealand war effort. 150 Niuean men from an entire Niuean population of 4000 people were added to the New Zealand Maori contingent which served in Egypt and France in 1915. As many of the Niuean men did not return from the war, this represented a significant loss to Niue. Robert’s work in Tau Tupua: The Spirits began with the filmed interviews with descendants of the Niuean veterans that went to World War 1 resulting in an interactive and surrealist style video.
Robert’s films and exhibited works include Tau Tupua: The Spirits, Fresh Gallery, Auckland 2014; Dys/Function, 24 Hour Film Festival, Auckland,2013; Conversations in Mind, Queens Wharf, 2013; Fly Me Up To Where You Are: Te Waharoa, Artstation, Auckland, 2013; Reservations, NorthWest Digital/NZ Film Com, 2013; Composed of Light, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, 2012; Round Up, NorthWest Digital, 2012; Miharo, Tumanako Productions, 2012; 411 Series Two, Adrenalin Group, 2010; Pukoro Series Two, Kura Productions, 2007; The Goodbye, Creative NZ, 2006.