Robin Slow was born in Blenheim (Wairau) and started his formal education there, later moving to Christchurch and completing his high school years at Christchurch West. To keep himself at school he started working as a commercial artist before moving on to complete a Diploma of Teaching with an art major at Christchurch Teachers’ College. After spending some time in Christchurch he and his family of Rose and two children, Sandra and Tracey, moved to Twizel in South Canterbury where he took up a position teaching visual arts and design. For the last 31 years he has been teaching art at Golden Bay High School, Takaka, Mohua/Golden Bay. The teaching of art has been a major focus for him but in turn it has provided a learning and development opportunity for his own work and progression.
Since 1991 Robin has worked with the whanau at Onetahua Marae producing murals, traditional instruments, kowhaiwhai and carving, finishing in the completion of the wharenui, Te Ao Marama. He had overall responsibility for the design and layout of the wharenui. Robin spent ten years gathering information and working through the many different aspects required for the wharenui. With the Tangata Whenua of the area supporting and guiding, a framework was provided for the development of processes, procedures and philosophy which provided the context for his art. Through the marae he had the opportunity to work with people from throughout Aotearoa and overseas, artists and students alike, attracted to the heart of Mohua/Golden Bay. A large number of works were completed on a community basis.
Nothing is in isolation. All the completed art works are part of a whole, a hikoi or journey in itself. Within the building of the wharenui is the connection to the whenua (land), the people, the histories and the interaction of these features. Histories gathered, stories retold, and connections made to the many special places within the area. Mohua is a place rich in these stories, full of resources, and gifted people.
After the completion of the Marae many other artistic activities were completed from weaving, through to stone/bone carving to the creation of puoro, or traditional musical instruments.