Lissy Cole smiling with hand behind head

MELISSA ROBINSON COLE - NGĀTI HINEAMARU, NGĀTI KAHU

Born Auckland, New Zealand (1972)
Multidisciplinary artist (crochet)

Lissy Cole is a self-taught kai-tuimāwhai who grew up in a bustling creative force, raised by her mother, Mairehau (and whānau of performers and weavers), and her father, Colin Cole, a renowned New Zealand couturier.

Lissy expressed herself with a little sewing machine, drawing, and hanging out in her dad's salon. Her passion for art-making stuck throughout her journey of self-discovery as a young mother. The loss of her sister was a catalyst and reminder to honour the artist's voice within.

Formally graduating from MIT with an Applied Bachelor of Communications in 2010, Lissy worked with a social services agency until 2017.
'I Love Lissy Collection' was her first fashion line celebrating plus-sized women, which showed at 'True South' - the premier event of the 2012 South Auckland Pacific Arts Summit.

In 2014, Lissy met Rudi Robinson, her husband-to-be. Gearing up for their wedding in 2017, they dedicated their future artistic partnership to their ancestors and the universe. In 2021, Lissy and Rudi became Artists in Residence at Nathan Homestead in Manurewa, where their studio is based.

Lissy liked the idea of art on the street after discovering the work of the L. A based yarn bomber, London Kaye. Inspiring artworks for the local community and bringing joy to unloved spaces, they created a giant Anzac Day poppy (2018) on the Princes Street motorway overbridge. They covered their car entirely with crochet in 'The Joyride' (2019).

'Crochet, You Stay!' (2019) was a trilogy of crochet collaborations between Lissy Cole and Pacific women artists in South Auckland, funded during the 125th celebration of Women's suffrage. Ka Puawaitia: Coming to Fruition (2020) at Corban Estate Arts Centre was their first joint show experimenting with carved forms and Māori crochet embellishment.

Since then, the duo has been in fifteen exhibitions. In 2021, they were in shows including Auaha Haukura at Fresh Gallery, Whanau Marama at Commercial Bay, Hohou Te Rongo at University of Waikato, E Tiaki at Art Haus Orakei, Toi ō Tuku Iho at Auckland International Gallery. In addition, crochet workshops include ten weeks at The Collective and in the community as part of every exhibition.

Their subsequent major work, Wharenui Harikoa, is a large-scale crocheted wharenui that aims to transform intergenerational trauma into deeply felt joy, one loop at a time. The plans for this work include travelling throughout Aotearoa and the world, creating a global impact of aroha.

RUDI ROBINSON - WAIKATO/NGĀTI PĀOA, NGĀRUAHINE

Rudi Robinson sitting on stool with arms folded smiling

Born Kaingaroa, New Zealand (1974)
Multidisciplinary artist (crochet)

 

Rudi Robinson grew up surrounded by whānau in the small forestry town of Kaingaroa, Bay of Plenty. Rudi says he was born with a chainsaw in his hands and is now as proficient with a crochet hook as he is a chainsaw.

As a child, Rudi would spend countless hours exploring the forest or out in the shed at the back of his house where he would create. This is where he says he began a love of making. “We had to make do with very little, so it forced me to use my imagination to bring my creations to life.”

After leaving the settlement of Kaingaroa to pursue work and to provide for his young family. Rudi graduated with a Diploma in Adult Education and Training in Rotorua and worked with NZ Welding School as a Welding Tutor and then as a Welding Supervisor. This gave him an avenue to inspire rangatahi in the trades.

In 2014 Rudi worked alongside acclaimed artist Eugene Kara to set up the first Māori foundry at Te Puia Māori Arts and Crafts Institute Rotorua. Here they worked on creating the first bronze cast whatarangi under the initiative "Māori Tū" led by the Iwi Chairs Forum to demonstrate Aotearoa's support for the UN’s Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In 2014 Rudi met his future wife Lissy Cole and where a creative force was realised. Moving to Auckland Rudi learned to crochet and began working with Lissy on crochet installations in their community. The Joyride was their first large project in 2019 which involved covering their entire car with crochet to inspire joy in throughout Auckland and taking their kaupapa to the streets. 

This led Rudi and Lissy to explore the idea of utilising contemporary techniques with customary Māori carving to create structural forms. In 2020 they showcased their experimental work in a joint exhibition Ka Puawaitia – Coming to Fruition at Corban Estate Art Centre. 

Since then, the duo has been in fifteen exhibitions. In 2021, they were in shows including Auaha Haukura at Fresh Gallery, Whanau Marama at Commercial Bay, Hohou Te Rongo at University of Waikato, E Tiaki at Art Haus Orakei, Toi ō Tuku Iho at Auckland International Gallery. In addition, crochet workshops include ten weeks at The Collective and in the community as part of every exhibition.

Their subsequent major work, Wharenui Harikoa, is a large-scale crocheted wharenui that aims to transform intergenerational trauma into deeply felt joy, one loop at a time. The plans for this work include travelling throughout Aotearoa and the world, creating a global impact of aroha.