Wednesday, 16 October 2019

How Can Cans be a Book?

"Depth in Metres" artist book by Toni Hartill

Initial ideas for this wee tin can tinkering came about when I was working 
towards the "Scattered" group exhibition earlier in the year.

I found myself making mini-dioramas inside little folded boxes 
and in tuna and sardine tins. Yep, one minute I'm printmaking... next, I'm making mini imaginary worlds in old food tins... it happens.

Dioramas made for "Scattered" group exhibition by Toni Hartill

Tin can dioramas by Toni Hartill

Having accumulated a wee cluster of cans I then began 
playing with ideas of how these could become a "book".

As I was planning on working towards the PCANZ Thinking_Unfolding artists book exhibition later in the year I suppose this was the beginnings of my own thinking unfolding. One of the aims of the PCANZ exhibition was to challenge and explore what it is that makes an art object an artist's book.

I began playing with the notion that a book may:

tell a story, 
record an event,
be a diary,
has pages and chapters that reveal new information,
is open to interpretation depending on the audience...

Each of these little dioramas could be another chapter in my "story" 
or perhaps it could be a diary or a ship's log...?

"Depth in Metres: artist book by Toni Hartill

Next I'd need some way to contain my chapters or pages, as in a book cover...??

I toyed with various receptacle ideas but wanted to choose a structure that was relevant to the charts used so I settled on the simple structure of an old rolled chart/map into which the stack of cans would fit. I even decided to leave the old cotton ribbon, that I had used when gluing the tube, as it seemed fitting to leave it there.

"Depth in Metres" artist book by Toni Hartill

Scroll on to see the making of "Depth in Metres".

I was pleased with my end result of this "slight" diversion from what I was supposed to be working on at the time... and wanted to push the idea further to create a larger, more "sophisticated" version of this concept with a view to it being my entry for the Thinking _Unfolding exhibition.

My entry would also need to include printmaking as this version is made entirely of upcycled charts.

To see how this idea developed into my entry 
please return to see my upcoming blogs about my artist book "Vitamin Sea".

(Search in the "Exhibitions" list under "Thinking_Unfolding" 
or click on the "Artist Book" tab in the toolbar above.)

"Vitamin Sea" artist book by Toni Hartill

The Making of "Depth in Metres"

Stay tuned for new post coming soon!

"Vitamin Sea" artist book by Toni Hartill

Thursday, 10 October 2019

"Forest has the Blues ~ Murmurings" - its a WRAP!

"Forest has the blues ~ Murmurings" Franklin Arts Centre, 2019.

 "Forest has the Blues" began as a collaborative group project in 2017 when Celia Walker sowed the seed (no pun intended) of her idea and we began to shape and plan how the project could develop. Our initial exhibition was held at The Depot Artspace in Devonport in July 2018. You can read about this stage of the project in earlier posts here.

"Forest has the Blues" at Depot Artspace, Devonport. 2018.

Immediately after deinstalling in Devonport we installed a slightly smaller version of the exhibition at the Auckland Botanical Gardens which you can read about here.

"Forest has the Blues" at Auckland Botanical Gardens. 2018.

Following on from the huge interest and positive responses received, we decided to develop the show further and this year we installed an all new transformation of the show in the large Steel Gallery at the Franklin arts Centre in Pukekohe 20 July - 24 August, 2019. 

"Forest has the Blues ~ Murmurings" Franklin Arts Centre, 2019.

  This show included 6 of the original artists: Celia Walker, Toni Hartill, Elle Anderson, Esther Hansen, Kheang Ov, Nicola Ov (as Ina Arraoui is currently living in Sicily) and included newcomer Rachel Schanzer. This time we decided to also include two groups of students as two of our artists are teachers so we had a group of year 12 and year 13 students from Pukekohe High School, under the guidance of  Esther Hansen and HoD Vicky Moore-Allen, and a group of year 13 students from Westlake Girls High School under the guidance of their teacher and HoD Kheang Ov.

(Scroll on to see more photos from the Franklin Arts Centre Exhibition.)

De-install completed.

 The show came down in August and it has now all been packed away 
and re-distributed back to the artists. There is an enormous amount of work behind the scenes managing such a multi-faceted project and we have certainly learnt a lot that will be useful in planning our future projects but it feels like the right time for us to move on to new things.  

It has been a very inspiring and hugely rewarding project to be a part of and we are grateful to everyone involved in making it such a success.

In bringing the project to a close Celia has very succinctly summed up what "Forest has the Blues" has achieved over the 2 or so years from initial conception through to the final de-install. 
I think we can all feel pretty proud of what we have achieved. 

By Celia Walker

Forest has the Blues started with a little idea of mine two years ago to coordinate an installation involving giving away native plants, with a theme of urban forests - Toni Hartill and Elle Anderson were instrumental in working out the form of the show, with Toni doing so much work to pull everyone together: we gathered in artists Esther Hansen Ina Arraoui, Kheang Ov, Nicola Ov and Rachel Schanzer

All have made massive contributions to the project, which in the end has had some major achievements:

  • Well over 1100 visitors to the exhibition over the three venues, (nearly 700 at the Depot in Devonport, around 400 at Franklin Arts Centre, and an unknown number at Auckland Botanic Gardens.)
  • Over 1000 trees have been planted as a result of the exhibition (230+ in our Restoring Takarunga Hauraki giveaway to the Devonport community, 800 at the planting day in Pukekohe.)
  • Over 50 senior high school students made wonderful print contributions to all the installations, thanks to the huge efforts at rallying them from Esther Hansen, Kheang Ov and Vicky Moore-Allen.

Hopefully many of those who have seen Forest has the Blues will carry on the message of caring for and respecting nature on our own doorstep, whether in backyards, urban parks or larger native remnant forests - in this climate crisis we all need to step up and do what we can, but we are feeling pretty chuffed with what we have achieved with this...

"Forest has the Blues" backdrop at Open Mic Night, Franklin Arts Centre.

 Congratulations and many thanks to everyone who worked so hard to contribute to this exhibition: artists, students, gallery staff and production teams.

Many thanks to everyone who came to the exhibitions, attended the workshops, helped out with tree planting, and to all those who purchased works and were so positive and supportive of our efforts.

We hope you perhaps learnt something new about our precious forest remnants, became more aware of some of the issues  they face and therefore be mindful of ways that you might contribute to positive changes to help to nurture and protect our natural environment be it in your own garden, your local park or regional reserves.

What's next?

"Forest Notes" pop-up book by Celia Walker & Toni Hartill

Perhaps as a means of a conclusion to our involvement in this project Celia and I went on to create a large pop-up artist's book using various components of our own work from the forest installation and to enter it into the PCANZ selected artists book exhibition "Thinking_Unfolding".

We are very pleased that our book "Forest Notes" has been selected for this exhibition. 
Keep an eye our for a future blog about this book.

And so now I think we can safely say "It's a WRAP!"

Scroll on to view a small selection of the many photographs from the
installation, opening and exhibition at Franklin Arts Centre. 

Also visit our facebook page: 
where you can find a lot more images.


The exhibition was installed over just 2 days. Celia, Nicola, Elle and Toni were responsible for the forest installation. Esther and Vicky managed the installation of the critters with help from some of the students and some generous supporters. And the production crew, contracted by the council, installed the individual exhibition works. De-install was done and dusted in 2 hours.




 Opening Event and artist talk

The opening was attended by  a large crowd and the artists each spoke about their contributions to the exhibition and how some of their works were created. There was a lot of interest from the audience to learn about the complexities of putting together such a show and to realise how much work went in to creating each of the many components.


Forest Installation

 This installation was a collaboration by the artists Celia Walker, Toni Hartill, Elle Anderson, Esther Hansen, Kheang Ov, Nicola Ov, Ina Arraoui and Rachel Schanzer and year 13 students of 
Westlake Girls High School.

All components were created using printmaking techniques including:
woodcut, linocut, monprint, cyanotype, drypoint and photographic processes.

Exhibition of Individual works

The exhibition of individual works included works by the artists Celia Walker, Toni Hartill, Elle Anderson, Esther Hansen, Kheang Ov, Nicola Ov, and Rachel Schanzer.



Rachel Schanzer

Nicola Ov

Nicola Ov


Nicola Ov

Esther Hansen

Toni Hartill

Toni Hartill

Toni Hartill

Celia Walker

Kheang Ov

Foreground: Elle Anderson

Elle Anderson

Celia Walker

Celia Walker

Celia Walker

Toni Hartill

To view these artist books in more detail 
please go to the Artist Books tab in the tool bar above.

Toni Hartill

Toni Hartill

Toni Hartill

Critter Installation

The critter installation was created by year 12 and year 13 students of Pukekohe High School under the guidance of teacher Esther Hansen and HoD Vicky Moore-Allen.
All critters were created using woodcut or drypoint printmaking processes.

Thanks for visiting!