Sunday, 10 September 2017

Honour Ring Circular Print Project

Honour Ring is a collaborative print project organised by the Franklin Print Collective, bringing together emerging and established artists from around New Zealand by making circular print works about the things they honour. It was on at the Franklin Arts Centre in Pukekohe from 8 - 24th July and presented a wonderful and inspiring collection of works.

This was a project I couldn't let pass by without participating as both the format and theme appealed to me. Many thanks to Esther Hansen, Vicki Moore-Allen and Jude Gordon for dreaming up this project and making it happen. It is due to travel on to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Designing an image.

I chose to honour "community" as my theme as, to me, it is such an important concept to nurture in the world, be it family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues, ...  print groups and organisations... without community we are but an island.... (hmmm now there's an idea for another work.) I used my beloved subject matter of a rockpool to illustrate this.

Carving the "key" block of lino, this is 1 of 3 blocks used.

 I have only been doing linocuts on and off for about 2 - 3 years now and so I know I have so much to learn. So, again, as in each project I take on, I set myself a goal of pushing myself to raise the bar on what I've achieved previously. In this project I wanted to further test how much detail I could include and successfully carve. I also wanted to challenge myself with producing an edition using multiple blocks that would require a more accurate registration system than my "by eye and hope for the best" technique of old. For this I devised my own pin and tab set up, much the same as the Ternes-Burton Pins but made using cut down flat-head nails, a  strip of plexi-plate and tabs made from acetate. 

There were many other questions I had along the way which I tussled with until I had a satisfactory answer such as: How do you transfer an image onto the lino so it remains crisp and clear while you carve? 

The completed "key" block.

Testing colours, making corrections.

Printing an edition - first colour.

Second colour is added.

Third and final colour, phew.

As always the final image evolves in unexpected ways as process and technique steer me in directions which I may or may not have anticipated. That first print reveal is always a MOST exciting moment as the heart literally flutters in anticipation - I kid you not, either I get very excited or I have a heart condition!

"Together we are an Ocean" Linocut by Toni Hartill
Paper size: A3, Edition of 5, $160 each.

What do I honour?
I honour the strength that comes from “community”, in all its many forms.
We have one world, we need to get along – strong communities nurture balance and harmony in a fragile world.
"Individually we are one drop. Together we are an ocean." Ryunosuke Satoro

Rockpool linocut, early proof by Toni Hartill

A lesson to be learnt, perhaps: 

In the process of working on this image I began with a certain idea in my head about how I wanted the final image to look and with the pre-planned intention of creating the image from layering 3 separate lino blocks. For this reason I didn't want the key block, the darkest and final block, to be too busy or it wouldn't allow room for the other colours to create the illusion of depth or shadow. So, when I initially proofed the key block, I felt it was too busy and so I went on to cut away the design, especially on the outer ring. 

I only wish I had taken more prints from the block at this stage because, in retrospect, I actually really like the effect of this initial print. It feels really solid and... rocky. I try to be responsive to my work as it progresses and to seize on happy accidents, as and when they evolve. In this case I was focused on trying to achieve a pre-determined effect and so lost sight of the possibility of what was actually in front of me. I would still go on, in this case to strive to achieve the effect I was after in the end BUT I wish I had recognized the merits of the image in the early stages and taken a detour to print an edition. As this realisation dawned on me, albeit a bit further down the track, I did print a couple of other editions of the image, one of just the key block outline, a much simpler and cleaner image and a second colour version where I put more colour and texture back into the outer ring by applying the ink in a sort of circular rainbow roll effect. I can easily look at any of the versions of prints and see things I like and things I would change but all in all its been another great learning experience. Below is a gif showing the various versions of the image as it developed over time. 

If you are interested in purchasing any of these prints please contact me directly and follow my facebook page for updates of when and where the exhibition travels to in Christchurch.

Thanks  for visiting!

Friday, 28 July 2017

"From the Rivers to the Shore" - a print project highlighting migratory birds.

Linocut by Toni Hartill
Edition of 15


"Ngunguru Sandspit is an area of significant cultural and ecological value and includes coastal and estuarine environments. It is home to multiple species of threatened flora and fauna and many migratory birds including the Poaka or Pied Stilt. The spit itself was recently at threat of development until the majority of it was secured by the Crown for the public. There is an ongoing threat that the remainder of the Ngunguru Sandspit area could still be developed so it is in everyone’s interest to honour, support and treasure this precious coastal area for future generations." artist statement: Toni Hartill

The Brief:

" "From the Rivers to the Shore" is a collaborative project bringing together artists from the North and South Islands, connecting through bird migrations to local experiences of environment and ecology. Numerous threatened bird species that breed in fragile areas such as the braided river beds and estuaries of the South Island to warmer areas in the north, and parts of Australia. This project aims to use multiple views of the birds, habitats and migration experiences to draw attention to the threats and challenges that these species face." Celia Walker.

When I was invited to take part in this project by printmaker Celia Walker, I wanted to choose a particular location that I had a personal connection with and to use it as an opportunity to highlight the particular challenges that the site and its natural flora and fauna have to contend with, including as a stop over for the many migratory birds that pass on through. 

"Ngunguru" by Toni Hartill
Edition of 15.

It was an easy choice to focus on "Ngunguru", a coastal spit and estuarine settlement about 20 minutes drive north of Whangarei as it is where my brother lives and we are very familiar and connected to the whole area. Through this project I hope that perhaps people might search Ngunguru on google earth to find out where it is and  to find out about its interesting and valuable history. Perhaps they might take a moment, while on holiday, to look more closely and to think about some of the issues facing the area, and how they, personally, might have an impact on the environment, for good or for bad.

First things first though: how to pronounce the name correctly, click HERE.

By the way, 
Ngunguru means to make a continued dull sound, growl (suppressed), grunt, rumble.
A perfect example of onomatopoeia don't you think!

Site of urupa on Ngunguru Sandspit.

Within Ngunguru Sandspit are sites of  historical and cultural significance including midden, a battle field, urupa (burial site) and a pa (fortified settlement).

"Ngunguru" detail by Toni Hartill
Site of urupa, and raised sandbank with oystercatcher birds. (Look closely!)

  I chose to focus my attention on the elegant Poaka or Pied Stilt, a bird which is common in coastal areas and wetlands throughout New Zealand and is often seen alongside Oystercatchers, a real favourite of mine for their comical and cheeky behaviour and rich black and red colouring.

"Ngunguru" detail by Toni Hartill
Poaka - Pied Stilt

I also wanted to reference the mangroves and the tidal nature of the estuary.

"Ngunguru", detail by Toni Hartill

As referred to in my artist statement Ngunguru Sandspit was very much under threat of development as has been the fate of so many of our coastal environments. To read a timeline of the events that finally lead to the announcement in August 2011 that the Crown had secured most of the sandspit for the public click HERE.

For more information:

Many people care for and seek to protect the Ngunguru environment and can be connected with through websites and facebook pages eg.

To see lots of beautiful photography and to get a real insight 
into the flora and fauna of the area go to 
the facebook page of NZ diver, writer, researcher Wade Doak 
and explore through his photo albums.

To read more about the Poaka of Ngunguru, by Wade Doak visit HERE.

For an informative educational document all about the estuaries of Northland:
"Northland's Coast and Us - Our Estuaries"

Exhibition installation at 

Opens Saturday July 29th 2-3.30pm

The Depot Artspace, Devonport, Auckland, NZ

From the Rivers to the Shore was exhibited at 
Arts in Oxford gallery in Canterbury: 10th of June - 18th of July 2017; 

Opens at
The Depot Artspace in Devonport, Auckland: 29th of July - 16th of August 2017

Moves to:
 No. 1 Parnell gallery in Rawene, Northland: 2nd September - 13 October, 2017.


I will be doing a printmaking demo at The Depot Artspace, 
sharing some of the ways I use a Dremel tool in my work, 
Sunday August 6th 1 - 2.30 pm. 


There will also be a Shorebirds talk at the gallery on August 13th at 2pm.
All welcome.

"Ngunguru" by Toni Hartill
Edition of 15

Thanks for visiting!

Hope you can now pin-point Ngunguru on the map 
and that you get to enjoy 
its natural beauty 
for always!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

My 3D rockpool for Boundless Printmaking exhibition - the making of.

The making of a 3D rockpool by Toni Hartill.

Creating a larger, more refined 3D rockpool had been on my to-do list for a couple of years and I had ambitions to complete it in time to enter into "Boundless - Beyond the Frame", a printmaking exhibition organized by PCANZ (Print Council of Aotearoa New Zealand) and judged by Dr Carole Shepheard. The initial exhibition was to be held at Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua, New Zealand: 20 May - 13 August, 2017. From there it will move to Aratoi Museum of Art and History, Masterton for 16 September until late November, 2017. And finally it will travel to the Waikato Museum, 4 May til 15 July, 2018.

"Sea Nest" by Toni Hartill
My earlier 3D rockpool.
This is a project that evolved from an earlier, smaller rockpool and I felt like I had unfinished business, to push my idea further. There were a great many stages and this is often what puts me off such a project - I have big ideas that then require a lot of planning and experimentation and then I doubt myself and.... well, often projects are set aside to languish in drawers perhaps until I get "brave" again and steel myself to have faith that it WILL work, probably, maybe... or not.

In the end I did manage to plod on to see this project through to a finished piece and I was very pleased, honoured and relieved, when it was accepted in to the exhibition. The minute a work is completed and couriered off to its destination its so easy to forget the many hours and steps it took to create so here is a pictorial short version of the process showing most, but not all, of the steps.

A lengthy drawing and planning process

Cutting tools used included gouges, dremel and knife.

Testing progress by doing regular pencil rubbings.

Inking up for the first proofing - exciting!

First proof, checking details.

Creating colour and pattern under-layers using
lino blocks and acetate stencils.

The deep teal rockpool lino block is printed over the under-layers.

The final black lino block is printed.

Detail of rockpool final print.

The backs of each print is inked with multiple layers of black.

Cutting and assemblage - nerve-wracking!

Final gluing - no turning back!

Glued and clamped.

Multiple crocheted supports were constructed til the fit was just right.

The finished crocheted support ready to attach.

Final fitting.

Creating a box to transport it safely was a sculptural 
project in itself.

All set to go!

"There be Treasure" linocut by Toni Hartill

"There be Treasure" detail, linocut by Toni Hartill

 Artist Statement: Pop-up theatres, shoe-box dioramas and press-and-fold paper toys all spark the nostalgia of childhood memories, of the magic of taking a two dimensional image and transforming it into a three dimensional "world". Through a combination of techniques including monotype, caustic etch, linocut, and old-school paper craft, I venture to reignite the viewer's magical childhood powers of imagination to step through the looking glass and enter the Lilliputian world of this rocky pool.

A 2d image holds the viewer at arm's length, as a spectator, viewing the work from a single perspective. Transforming the image into 3 dimensions the viewer's perception and involvement changes. The transition becomes easier, for the viewer, to cross the divide between impartial spectator and engaged participant as they alter position to peer into the depths to see what is hidden and to view the changing vista.

Inspired by the natural environment I am drawn to look for beauty in unexpected places and I endeavour to draw the viewer in to share in my experiences. My often visited theme of rockpools stems from my fascination since childhood of these mini microcosms abundant along our shores, each one unique in its inhabitants and ecology, tiny treasure chests of the sea.

Participants in the Boundless exhibition at Pataka Art + Museum, 2017.

Boundless - Beyond the Frame
printmaking exhibition at Pataka Art + Museum, 2017.

Thank you for visiting.

I hope this gives you an insight into the many hours of work that an artwork can entail. 
What you don't see here are the many hours of experiments and tangents one goes on in trying to work out how to proceed next. 

Hmmm... now what am I working on next? 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

100 Days Project - 14 days of "going rogue".

100 Days Project, 2017 - Toni Hartill

Fourteen days down and all's swell!

My decision to "go rogue" feels like a little burst of freedom!  This year I decided to not register and to unofficially take part in this year's NZ 100 Days Project  .. and so far, so good. 

I've participated twice before and got a lot out of the experience but... I have to say the experience can become a bit of a slog at times as I feel the pressure (all self-imposed of course) of needing to present my project publicly. 

This time I'm NOT regularly uploading my progress so I'm not worrying about how the images might "read" in sequence, whether the drawings relate, or flow, or make sense... although I do still care whether the drawings are any good... but then, I don't have to show anyone... so that's ok then!

This time I'm still, so far, looking forward to when I sit down with my sketch book. I'm allowing myself to draw whatever takes my fancy at the time. I'm allowing myself to play with whatever medium I might have at hand. I look online for inspiration if I'm lacking some days eg. at illustrators' works, and allow myself to be led off on random tangents to try something new. 

NEVER thought I'd draw from photos of celebrities (!) Did you?!

So far, media I've used includes: 

pencil, ball point and fine-line pens, watercolours, brush pens and Promarker markers.

Illustrators/artists who have inspired me:

I'd love to hear from you 
if you are taking part in a 
100 Days Project 
whether it be 
official or otherwise!

Hope its going well and, first and foremost, that you are ENJOYING IT!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

100 Days Project... for a third time... but not officially....

I have participated twice before, officially. The first time was in 2013 when I did drawings every day - you can view past posts about that project HERE. I kept it super simple and gave myself clear guidelines so there would be no excuse as to why I couldn't complete a drawing a day. My rules were: 1. use only black ballpoint pen - no dithering about what medium to use on any day and nothing is more transportable or accessible. 2. all drawings were to fit within the pages of my little sketchbook. I allowed myself a 1/4 page, a 1/2 page or a full page each day. Some drawings were therefore able to be tiny and would share the page with other drawings so this took away some of the pressure of a blank page staring back at me.

100 Days Project 2013, Toni Hartill

The next time I took part was last year, 2016 - doesn't seem so long ago now that I'm starting a NEW project! Again I kept it simple: Mark making every day - you can read about this project HERE. This time I didn't intend to create one complete image every day, just to create marks every day, ideally part and parcel of my regular arts practice. This could be simply the process of carving into a lino block, drawing, cutting stencil patterns, stitching, printing... anything that created a mark. The one unifying element was that I used paper torn or cut to 15 cm square with the intention of building a "compendium" of mark making that I can continue to add to and refer back to. I could use any medium and I could layer up effects to encourage experimentation and "play." I learnt lots about new ways (for me) of creating marks that have lead directly into my printmaking and I continue to refer back to the project and to add to it - a fab resource.

100 Days Project 2016, Mark Making by Toni Hartill

100 Days Project 2016, Mark Making by Toni Hartill

Each time I have had a primary goal to try to develop a habit, learn and/or hone skills, push myself to try new things and to work harder in my arts practice. I have purposely steered away from creating a finished "product." Personally I battle constantly against the urge to achieve perfection which so often gets in the way of keeping the creative juices truly flowing. Being part of an on-line community is fantastic in many ways but the urge to present a public face, posting images regularly, feels like it still corrals me into "presenting" my progress, and inhibits me from wanting to show the complete stuff-ups I am well capable of creating, but which I can learn oh so much more from. When the opportunity to sign up again came along I was so, so tempted to push the big red button to REGISTER but I'm pleased to say... I resisted!

My intention THIS TIME is to take part entirely on my own terms.

Sketchbooks by Toni Hartill

This time, again, I will simply DRAW. I will use any medium that takes my fancy. I will begin by using a cheap-as-chips spiral bound sketch book but allow myself to wander off into other sketch books I have on the go or on whatever actually takes my fancy. I won't be posting images every day. I won't even post all of my images - so I have no intention of necessarily showing you all of my complete cock-ups, although I might show you the odd one.... I'll post a smattering of images now and then to show progress and, hopefully to keep myself committed to the task. In essence I'm going to (try) to draw like no-one is watching!

Feel free to ask how I'm doing at any stage, your support might be just what keeps me going!

"Kiss Me Before You Go" by Danny Gregory

The final inspiration that decided me to commit (albeit with myself) to taking part was having recently read a gorgeous book called "A Kiss Before You Go" illustrated and written by Danny Gregory. This book is presented as if it is one of his actual sketch books filled with his quirky, delightful images telling the story of events in his life (its a very sad story but it also shows a lot of spirit and hope and captures the minutiae of his life so beautifully.)

"Kiss Me Before You Go" by Danny Gregory

"Kiss Me Before You Go" by Danny Gregory

Take a peak at some of Danny's work HERE. I have long drooled over sketchbooks and workbooks by many artists and long aspired to develop the skills to be able to do this myself.

So, this is it!
I'm going to give it a crack!
Watch this space and I might just share some of it with you.

You can read all about the NZ 100 Days Project here.