Wednesday, 6 March 2019

"Scattered" - thoughts and ideas in progress.

Works in progress for "Scattered" by Toni Hartill

Another of this year's upcoming projects
is a group exhibition with artists
Celia Walker, Elle Anderson and myself.


 Opens Wednesday May 1st at 5.30pm
Ponsonby, Auckland.

The inspiration for this show was to provide an opportunity for the three of us to exhibit together,
particularly now that we are scattered geographically by Elle's move away from Auckland. 

The exhibition will include a scattering of small works - works in progress and ideas in motion, partial renderings and snapshots, into our various ways of working. We began with a shared piece of text as a starting point for inspiring our thoughts and ideas, each in our own way.

This has been an opportunity to allow ourselves to "play" more freely without the need to be focused on end "products" but rather with a view to sharing some of our thoughts and processes that emerge along the way. I envisage my installation will be something of a glimpse into just how scattered my thoughts can be when I am working on a particular project with the wall space scattered, much as my studio becomes scattered, with a multitude of works in progress, revealing also the many tangents I might venture off on!


As we approach our installation at the end of April
I will share some my progression of ideas and thoughts
and hope you will enjoy coming along to experience
our works up close.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2019

"Forest has the Blues" - NZ Clematis Linocut

"NZ Clematis - Puawhananga" (detail)
Linocut by Toni Hartill

2019 has begun, for me, with a steady graft towards an array of upcoming deadlines.
One of the biggies for this year is an all-new-look presentation of the group show 
"Forest has the Blues"
- coming July, 2019 at the Steel Gallery, Franklin Arts Centre, Pukekohe.

Our team of artists are again collaborating towards this year's event which includes an even larger installation than last year's, in a completely different colour palette and style, plus a collection of exhibited works by each of the seven artists. This year we are also including 2 groups of students from 2 Auckland secondary schools: Pukekohe High School and Westlake Girls High School. 

To view previous posts about last year's "Forest has the Blues" exhibitions 
or click on the link in the right hand "Exhibitions" column.

I will write more about the kaupapa (purpose) of the project in coming blogs but for now I thought I'd share my progress thus far on a new large linocut I have created with the installation in mind.

 Last year I created a even larger linocut of the invasive weed the moth plant, complete with nasty ol' seed pods. I think, despite its invasive nastiness its a rather pretty plant with its grey green foliage and its unusual sculptural white flowers. However, we are not meant to admire it - we are meant to rip it from the earth and destroy any we see - pods, roots and all!

This year, for a complete contrast, I thought I'd move to the bright side and create one of my favourite native plants: the NZ Clematis. This plant likes to have its roots sheltered in the cool shade but reaches for the skies forming a lush display of starry white flowers above the canopy of the forest - a much more uplifting metaphor!


 As always, beginning a new project after a hiatus from using a particular technique, I feel the fear of failure looming over my shoulder. Carving an image  which will be read in just one colour does not come naturally to my brain and it takes quite a bit of psyching to be able to think in terms of positive/ negative, light/ dark, near/ far, etc. Anyway, best way forward, I find, is to begin with a detailed drawing, then simply dive on in and hope for the best! 

My greatest apprehension with trying to render a clematis flower was how to tackle the complicated centre structure. I began with some close up sketches to grasp the idea then experimented on some scrap lino til I was able to simplify the positive and negative areas in a way that still "read" correctly.

A super exciting moment is always proofing the lino for the first time. 
This is also a chance to stand back and view the image for a couple of days to contemplate if it all reads as I'd hoped or if any further carving is necessary. (I also worry that I could just as likely ruin it by making changes - this can be a bit of a stressful, dithering stage for me!)

" NZ Clematis - Puawhananga" (detail)
Linocut by Toni Hartill

 I was reasonably happy with the image at this point so I decided to "whip up" a small edition 
 in black (as it was looking quite striking, if I do say so myself... and before I risked ruining it!) 
By the way, I rarely use black in my work and actually this (like most of my work) was never intended to be printed in black.

Next step was to test it in pale blue as I had envisaged it for the installation.

Hoo-hoo, another of my favourite things to do
is to roll new ink onto a clean lino block!
Reminds me of those magic colouring books we had when I was a kid
- just add water and an image appeared - only this is much better, 100 fold!

Next task was to print multiples of the image in pale blue...

and then to cut them all out.

Lastly I need to decide on how they can be installed en masse 
by experimenting on my studio pin-board.

 Plenty of time to to let ideas percolate 
so in the meantime they are quite happily
blooming on my wall.

Cleaned Clematis lino block - by Toni Hartill.

Updates on further progress
"Forest has the Blues" 
to come
 so watch this space.

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Saturday, 17 November 2018

New Button: Artists Books

Hello again, I'd just like to draw your attention to 
another new button I have added to my menu:

Here you will find a gallery of my artists books, 
all created within the past 3 years.

The books that I have previously written about 
have a link that will take you to that page. 

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, 12 November 2018

Artists Books - Field Notes of an Imaginary Botanist

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

Last month I began working on ideas 
for a number of projects scheduled for next year. 

Rather than working on distinctively different work 
for each I allowed ideas for one project to generate and feed ideas 
for another and so before I knew it I was having 
an inspiration explosion! 

Which means, believe it or not, 
a VERY chaotic and messy studio. 
But oh so productive. 


There were buckets of plant specimens and make-shift flower presses in action; sheets of paper were shredded into all manner of shapes and sizes and lengths of fabric were printed and singed on an open-flame (hmmm that fabric is quite flammable btw!). Collographs, drypoints, linocuts, monoprinting. Gessoing, watercolours, gluing, stitching, cutting, tearing.... it was all happening... all at once... in every direction... on every available surface... so, inevitably... I kept going off on a tangent. 

So, I decided to follow my muse and complete one of these tangents: 
an edition of wee "sketchbooks" or "field notes" of manawa/ NZ mangroves... for my imaginary botanist friend/self.

I have a real soft spot for mangroves. I love everything about them. 
I often pick up the pods and take them home to draw and so I have a journal with multiple images I could readily refer back to. 


For some time I've had the idea of creating fake or imaginary "field notes", 
inspired by the many old survey logbooks of my maternal grandfather's, 
so this was a perfect chance to explore this further.

Logbooks of my grandfather AH Pickmere.

I created a series of drypoints which I then hand-coloured. I have only once before created an EDITION of any of my artist books so this felt a little like I was turning a brief spark of inspiration into a waaaay bigger project. And, it wasn't even for any of the many deadlines I have planned for next year - go figure.

Hand-colouring the drypoint images.

Testing ideas for structure and layout.

Adding some distressing and weathering for fake authenticity.

Printing the "fabric" lining for the notebooks.

Folding the structures into shape.

Loving the colours and textures of the "old linen" linings.

The outside surface was printed to look like old leather.

and then I decided I/my imaginary botanist chum would need a pocket for some sketching supplies and somewhere to keep the odd "treasure" I/they would inevitably collect so....

A wee pocket of supplies and collected treasures.

Choosing and attaching the ties to hold the notebooks closed.

Little "stitched" labels for each book.
(Spoiler: no stitching was actually done - its ALL faked!)

The completed books - each one slightly different.

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill
"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

"Field Notes - Manawa, NZ Mangrove" by Toni Hartill

...and finally a wee flyover....

Although I don't have a specific event in mind at which to exhibit these 
I am beginning to accumulate quite a collection of mangrove related works so... 
watch this space.

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