Posted by Bev Slooten




Robert Westaway has a vibrancy, is loaded with optimism, seeks Mother Nature to strengthen his power of observation and continually asks why, where did that come from, who was the last one to use it, let's see if we can turn that into something else and what will happen in the process.
This Timaruvian artist is vivacious and has managed to combine all his interests through painting. At school, he loved maths, science and woodwork which all fostered his inquisitive mind. His acrylics and oils are combined with carbon dioxide and secret ingredients and when put on the canvas they separate in places and run back together making rivulets of intense or light colour. On some of his work, I observed crystallisation. He deliberately sets out to make the molecules of his ingredients produce reactions, but stay together, and then observes the process after having applied the paint to his canvas.


It would be fair to say that in his exuberance, some reactions have gone in the opposite direction! Robert keeps his ingredient list as a secret.
Robert now makes his own frames and stretches the canvas across them. His paintings are quite large up to 2 metres or more across.

He left school and went into the Army, then joined the seminary in the early '90s. As a mature student, he enrolled for the IT course at the Timaru Polytech and enjoyed his career time in Christchurch. The earthquakes forced a rethink and he dramatically changed to painting and went back to the Polytech to further his painting interest. While there he met Mike Armstrong who helped set the path for his Bachelor and Master of Arts from Otago University including a 40,000-word thesis.
At present, he is commuting to Dunedin to work on his Doctorate in Visual Arts and a 60,000 thesis. He has attained A and A-plus grades throughout his years of study. Robert is the first male artist from Timaru to receive with Distinction the Supreme Artist award for both his Bachelor and Masters degrees.

Robert is a family man and one of his grand daughters is showing an interest in painting too. He is a father of 7 and his grandchildren are often in his studio-cum-science-lab exploring or experimenting and being told not to do this at home!
Throughout his life, Robert has worked very hard to overcome his illiteracy and health issues. He takes immense pride in having read bed time stories to his children and grandchildren. He will never write a bucket list because it is not a priority.

Robert has exhibited in many galleries across the South Island. Along with his colleague, Peter Cleverly, he has recently judged at the Southland Arts Awards in Invercargill. He enjoys the challenge of understanding the journey and processes of other artists. When in this role he seeks "their honesty and their pure".


Enjoy your weekend.