21 July 2016

Farewell to Robert Foster

It is with sadness that we learn of the death of local artist Robert Foster, who died on the morning of Wednesday 13 July 2016, after a traffic collision on Kings Highway. Known for his work in contemporary design and silver-smithing, his distinctive Fink jugs were an icon found in many restaurants and galleries around Canberra, and indeed the world.


Robert Foster with his renowned Fink jug
Robert Foster with his renowned Fink jug
Born in Victoria, Foster came to Canberra in 1981 when he enrolled in the Canberra School of Art at ANU to study gold and silver-smithing. In 1988, just two years after finishing his studies, his first work was purchased by the recently opened National Gallery of Australia.

That first jug, created from aluminium and using a sleek modern shape, was typical of Foster’s work, and it became a design icon. In 1993, Foster also created the design and manufacturing company Fink and co. which has been producing usable art ever since.

'Ossolites' at ActewAGL House
'Ossolites' at ActewAGL House
Using both traditional and experimental techniques, Foster often made jugs, lamps, teapots, coffee pots, platters and vases, as well as larger sculptures, such as ‘Ossolites’ in the foyer of the ActewAGL House in Civic. Each piece he made is imbued with a distinctive personality and movement; objects ‘that might, Nutcracker-suite style, come to life as the owner sleeps.’

He frequently exhibited at locations around Canberra, included the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Museum and Galley and Craft ACT.

 Fink and co. brochure
Fink and co. brochure
He once wrote that ‘the predominate driving force whilst making is to discover an object that expresses a story, an emotion, or a sense of meaning.’ Many people who have seen his work can express their appreciation for the years he spent creating beautiful objects for everyday use.

For an in-depth examination of his work see Robert Foster: Critical Play, edited by Merryn Gates, available for reference from the ACT Heritage Library. Quotes in this blog were also taken from this publication.