Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Small Prints are go! Long live the Kahikatea!

"Forgotten Roots" by Toni Hartill

The "Small Print" exhibition is a traveling exhibition organised by PCANZ (Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand).  Members were invited to submit between 2 and 6 prints on quality A4 paper. Two of each artist's prints will hang at a time and will be replaced as they sell, and as the exhibition tours venues around New Zealand. Locations of venues include Gisborne, Hastings, Tauranga, Te Awamutu, Hutt Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Auckland. Visit the above link to keep up to date with the planned venues.

It was with both this exhibition, and another mini print exhibition, in mind, that I worked on my "30 days of block printing" challenge, as described in my previous blog post: "A year of self-imposed challenges."

Monoprint backgrounds by Toni Hartill

Assorted lino blocks by Toni Hartill

For subject matter I used the theme of yet another project I have been working on, which will culminate in a collaborative group installation and exhibition, "Forest Has the Blues", in July this year. With so many projects on the go my plan was to overlap the stages of ideas development and technique experiments for the best use of time and energy.

Small Prints by Toni Hartill

A key theme of "Forest Has the Blues" is to draw attention to the fragility and significance of forest remnants and the myriad of factors which threaten their continued existence. I chose to focus some of my attention on the disappearance of the, once extensive, Kahikatea forests across New Zealand, particularly in the Waikato and Waipu regions. Living in Auckland and traveling to visit family, both south to Tauranga, via the Waikato, and north to Whangarei, via Waipu I have always been drawn to the sorrowful wee huddles of these potentially beautiful, yet often bedraggled, remnants.

 Kahikatea remnants, State Highway 2 on the road south to Paeroa.

 Kahikatea remnants, State Highway 1 heading north, where it bypasses Waipu township.

Where have they all gone?

Great forests of Kahikatea once covered these low lying floodplains. With settlement of the land firstly by Maori and later by Europeans, areas were burnt off and cleared for food crops. Their location on lowland, fertile soils meant these "wastelands" were readily cleared to make way for productive farmland. Although unsuitable for naval or building applications, due to the softness of the wood, when refrigerated shipping was developed in 1882, there was a sudden demand for the timber due to the discovery that it's soft, pale, odourless wood was perfect for boxes as it didn't taint the food. And so, this once magnificent tree, a survivor of the Jurassic period, saw its further demise by being turned in to butter boxes!

Further decline of the remaining remnants occurs due to factors such as weeds, animal pests, insufficient fencing, and therefore protection from stock, and continued land development.

It is estimated that "more than 98% of the pre-European kahikatea forest has been lost nationwide." It is heartening to see, however, that there are a number of restoration initiatives across the country that would be well worth supporting. See links at the end of the page for more info.

Monoprinting and lino prints

A mixture of monoprint, lino cut and embossing 
these small prints are part of a larger series, (part of my "be prolific" goal) and each print is unique. I was interested in exploring interesting textures, layering effects with light over dark and misregistering of edges to get hot slivers of colour peeping through. I was also focused on embracing the imperfect and on the hunt for the happy accident (not always easy with my personality traits!)

"Once Were Giants"(detail) by Toni Hartill

"Small Prints"

These 5 prints are part of the PCANZ "Small Print" exhibition 
which is traveling to venues around New Zealand. 
Paper size: A4, print size approx:  8cm x 10-12cm

"All That Remains" by Toni Hartill

"Forgotten Roots" by Toni Hartill

"Forgotten Roots" (Detail) by Toni Hartill

"Once Were Giants" by Toni Hartill

"Once Were Giants" (Detail) by Toni Hartill

"Shelterbelt" by Toni Hartill

"The Last Stand" by Toni Hartill

For more information about our upcoming project "Forest has the Blues" 

visit our Event on facebook, 

keep updated with my posts on my 

and/or stand by for a blog post or two, yet to be compiled, 
but oh so many photos of progress to share!

A lonely Kahikatea tree, Milford, NZ.

And finally, look more closely in your neighbourhood 
for the odd lonely Kahikatea tree. 

There's one in Milford on the corner of Taharoto Rd and Shakespeare Rd, in front of the retirement village. Apparently there were two trees here until fairly recently but now just this solitary one remains. I think it should have a fence around it with a sign to draw people's attention to its significance and history - it was there long before we were. I fear it will just whither away until it either falls down in a storm or gets cut down as an eye-sore. I HOPE NOT!

Note: All photographs are taken by myself.
Please remember to attribute me correctly should you share the information.

Bibliography & links for more information about Kahikatea:


Restoration projects in action:


  1. Hi there `Toni - inspiring to hear what you have been up to....I like the plates where room is left to do various 'monotype' interventional moves........hope the exhibitions go well. best wishes

    Aine in Scotland

    1. Hey Aine, Great to hear from you! I've been too busy making work to be blogging so have got way behind in documenting my work but hopefully I'll catch up and aim to write about how the exhibitions go. Hope your work is going well! Best wishes back at you too :) Toni


I'd love to hear your feedback or comments. Thanks for visiting! Please remember to credit tonihartillart.blogspot.co.nz when sharing or using any of my images or information.