Don’t leave Raglan without a Robert Currie artwork

Raglan artist Robert Currie is not one to let a little health scare stop him from doing what he loves best – creating art.

Like a cat with nine lives, Robert has fought back from strokes, heart attacks, cancer, cataracts and depression, and has always come back with a great attitude to life.

Famous for his iconic paintings of Raglan scenes and his Pink Palace gallery, Robert is launching a new series of artworks with an environmental slant.

Breathing new life into CDs and 7-inch 45 rpm records, Robert is transforming them into coasters, wall hangings and fridge art.

Dubbed Don’t Leave Raglan Without One, the mini works of art depict Robert’s famous Raglan Roast hole in the wall scene, and he plans to add more scenes to the series.

The ‘upcycling’ inspiration came to Robert during Lockdown, who like many, found himself spending long periods of time on his own.

“I had two ideas – to save the planet and to motivate others to do something as well.”

Launching the series during Easter, Robert is looking forward to sharing his love of Raglan and art with visitors to the gallery.

“They can take a piece of Raglan back with them at an affordable price,” he says.

A self-taught artist, Robert held his first exhibition 40 years ago when, on a whim, he asked a landlord of a vacant shop if he could lease it for six weeks. 

He furiously sketched Waihi vistas during the day and sold his water colour originals at night.

Originally from Hamilton, Robert came to Raglan in 2001 after the loss of his beloved wife Ann to cancer.

Suffering deeply from depression, he went for a drive over the Divvy and never looked back.

“When I got home, I said to Clyde the cat ‘pack your bags we’re moving to Raglan’,” he laughs.

Robert still considered himself a ‘closet artist’ and after his success in Waihi hadn’t really entertained the thought of ever exhibiting again.

A chance meeting in 2002 with the sisters Vera and Nora Van der Voorden who ran the then Te Uku Gallery convinced Robert to have an exhibition.

It would be his second exhibition and on opening night he sold 12 paintings and has never looked back.

With a renewed creative outlet, he found himself off the anti-depressants and loving life once more.

“Art saved my life,” Roberts says.

The nearly 80-year-old artist paints at night and into the early hours of the morning, and says it gives him the motivation to get up the next day.

“I’m really keen to get up in the morning and see what I’ve done,” he laughs. 

Despite the prostate cancer he successfully fought in 2000 returning, Robert knows he’ll beat it again, and he’s keen to encourage other men to chat to the doctor about their health.

“I like to think that I’m pushing this health issue with other men, especially through their wives because men aren’t always so good at getting themselves checked out,” he says.

Check out Robert Currie’s new series Don’t Leave Raglan Without One at the Pink Palace Gallery, 4 James St – open 10am-5pm.

Janine Jackson