Friday, 19 July 2019

Imagined Journeys through Lost Landscapes - I, II, III

Lost Landscape Meander Books by Toni Hartill

Artist's Statement:

Imagined Journeys through Lost Landscapes I, II, III 

Imaginary journeys through the lost landscapes that once were the swamps of the Hauraki Plains. It is estimated that more than 98% of pre-European Kahikatea has been lost nationwide and now only occurs as forest fragments. Since researching our nation’s history regarding the demise of our pre-European landscapes I feel bereft for all we have lost and I fear for what we continue to lose.

Lost Landscape Meander Books by Toni Hartill

The making of the books

These books came about through play. 
And through a desire to paint rather than print. 

You may know that I was primarily a painter that has got way-laid by the lure of printmaking and I often, and always, long to paint again. These wee books were joyous to create: playing with paint, zoning out in the moment with wet-in-wet, colour and composition...

The structure of the books is known by various names including Snake Book, Meander Book, Accordion Book... My preference in this case is the Meander book as it suits the idea of a journey quite aptly.

They began with very loose watercolour paintings on both sides of heavy watercolour paper. I very much had ideas of imagery in my head (my imagined landscapes) and an idea of how the large sheet would actually read as many smaller pages within the books.

The boxes are made using a simple origami pattern folded into a box with a matching fitted lid. 

The paper for the boxes is antiqued and printed with text from an article, written by a descendant of the Bagnall brothers who ran a mill on the banks of the Waihou River at Turua, Hauraki Plains. There they milled Kahikatea trees to be made into butter boxes. The descendant expresses regret for their family’s part in the destruction of the forest as they describe the “men with axe and saw, slashing their way into the doomed bush… It was the beginning of the end for many of the feathered world that inhabited its depths… The massive trunks came faster and faster… but a grand and noble forest lay dying.”
Le Baigneau, “Where the Village Slew the Forest”, NZ Herald, 24 April 1937.

Refer also to:

EnvirohistoryNZ: The slaying of our kahikatea forests: how Jurassic giants became butter boxes

Watercolour paintings

 The finished painted surfaces

 Gridding up and cutting

 The joy of 3D forms

 Turning the pages to discover the mini landscapes within

Imagined Journeys through Lost Landscapes I, II, III 

Watercolour accordion books within origami boxes


by Toni Hartill

Small x2: 60 x 60 x 30mm I, II

Large x1: 80 x 80 x 40mm III

These books are exhibited, as part of a larger body of work 
 inspired by the loss of the Kahikatea forests of NZ, 
in the Forest has the Blues - Murmurings exhibition 
 at the Steel Gallery, Franklin Arts Centre, Pukekohe.

Opens Saturday 20th July, 10.30am.
Artist talk: 11.15am.

Exhibition: 20 July - 24 August, 2019.

View other books in my Artist Books tab.

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Sunday, 14 July 2019

Estuary Art & Ecology Prize, 2019 - the making of my entry


Following on from my earlier posts about my entry into the Estuary Art & Ecology Prize, 2019, this post reveals some of the many hours of work that went into the making of my artist's book "Search & Rescue" created specifically for this event and which was awarded a Merit prize. To read about the kaupapa (purpose) of this event and how my entry came about please visit my earlier blog here. To view images and results of the awards ceremony please visit this blog here.


Scroll on to view images of the making of the work. 

As you will see in the images below there is a lot of 
detail hidden amongst the pages. If you happen to visit the exhibition 
you are invited to carefully lift the layers and explore within.

NOTE: To view the images in a larger format click on any image and a gallery of images should open on your computer screen allowing you to scroll through them and view them in more detail.



The Estuary Art & Ecology Prize, 2019

 July 13 - September 1st,
Uxbridge Arts Centre, 
Howick, Auckland, NZ

The brief:

The only contemporary art prize in Aotearoa New Zealand with ecology at its core. Artists are invited to research and respond to the Tāmaki Estuary, to underscore the ecological value of this vital waterway and encourage action against its pollution.

With a total prize pool of $8,300 the winning artworks will be intelligent and innovative responses to ecology in the field of contemporary art.

"Search and Rescue"

by Toni Hartill, 2019.

Artist's book "Search & Rescue" by Toni Hartill

The making of "Search and Rescue"

270mm wide x 1900mm long

Processes used include:
collograph, linocut, monoprint, drypoint, watercolour,
hand and machine stitching, papercutting.

Materials used:
varied hahnemuhle papers, sheer fabric, thread, beads,
found driftwood and rusted hardware, fabric, brass fittings.

Printing large collographs for background structures.

Cutting into the collograph backgrounds.


Collographs and etched lino

Linocuts on sheer fabric

Monoprinting with leaves

Creating and adding in details


Building up layers and playing with composition.


Experimenting with combinations and colourways.

Stitching sections together

Sewing on the many individual pieces by hand.

Creating more details

More stitching, more composing, more layers

Creating critters to inhabit the mud.

Flaps conceal little surprises.

Replicating seaweed with monoprinting and more cutting

Hand-stitched beads

Creating the header

 Tying up and gluing all loose ends.

This was a lengthy project which started with a loose idea that quickly morphed into something quite different from my initial concept. It grew and developed, on the trot, as I experimented, responded and reacted to the work as it was being created. There was a lot of problem-solving required as new and often unexpected challenges presented themselves. Continual decisions had to be made about composition and construction which often lead to new ideas. At times it was hard to reign in the inspirations to keep it manageable and realistic.

Meanwhile, particularly during the construction phase of stitching it together,  a lot of patience was required. I even questioned my sanity for allowing the project to blow out to such a challenging proportion. And I did wonder what on earth had possessed me when it came to needing to store the work and then to package it for delivery. 

In the end however,  this has been a major piece of work for me that has taught me a lot, sparked many new ideas and projects which have blossomed off in different directions (you may recognize some elements that appear in other current projects I have blogged about) and has challenged me to work outside of my comfort zone on many levels.

Always good to challenge yourself don't you think?

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