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.


On Sunday August 16th I presented a printmaking demo at The Depot Artspace, sharing some of the ways I use a Dremel tool in my work, among other things. It was very well attended by a mix of beginners and seasoned printmakers and there were plenty of questions to keep me on my toes. Although I was initially somewhat "freaked" at the thought of standing up in front of so many people, of unknown expertise, I soon found my groove and the hour and a half flew by. Judging by the many questions and the people that stayed on afterwards to quiz me further, it was well received.

"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?