Sunday, 3 November 2019

Artist Book "Vitamin Sea"

My artist book "Vitamin Sea" grew out of my enjoyment 
of making mini dioramas in tin cans and tiny boxes and was inspired by my love of spending time at, on, or in the sea.

It was made with the intention of entering it into the 
which is an opportunity to test and challenge the boundaries and 
definitions of what it is that makes an art object an "artist book". 

I was very pleased therefore when I was notified that  
"Vitamin Sea" 
has been selected for the show.


Aratoi Museum of Art + History,  

 Masterton, Wairarapa.  2 Nov – 8 Dec, 2019 

 Awards Event & Selectors talk

Saturday 2 November 2019, 1 pm.


Inspired by last summer’s trip to the Cavalli Islands, off the Northland coast, I wanted to express how the restorative effects of going to sea are so revitalising it should be canned and marketed! A large retro “can”, the “book cover”, espouses the health benefits of the contents while a found verse perfectly sums up my own connection to the sea. 

Inside the book are a week’s supply of smaller cans, the “pages” or “chapters” of the “book”. Each one reveals a new vista and experience at sea, like a visual diary or a ship’s log. Each vista tells a story of a time and a place. These stories will be re-imagined depending on the viewer’s own experiences.

The structural inspiration for this work reflects on the canned food rattling around the bilges of a boat, weathering over time until, when they are eventually eaten, they taste oh so good, strangely far better than they might if eaten in the comforts of home. Simply being at sea is nourishment enough.

The “cover” of the “book” is the tube, covered with a lino-print, intended to suggest a retro can label, espousing the health benefits of the contents. The scene is of the strikingly beautiful gannets swooping around an off-shore island, where the air is sweet and the sky is endless.

The tube is lined with a lino-printed section of an old chart. 

Lifting the tube up and away from the cans, which are stacked 
facing downwards, each can is then lifted off the stack 
and turned over to reveal a new mini diorama. 
Each scene reveals a new vista reminiscing places 
I have explored along the Northland coast.

The rear of the "cover" has a found verse by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
that perfectly sums up my emotional connection to the sea,
and is much like the "blurb" on the back of a book.

Seven food tins, to represent seven days / one week in time, have been filled with mini-dioramas of seascapes made from printed and collaged papers and upcycled old charts. The tins are each covered with “weathered” etchings aimed to imply old labels. These tins are the “pages” or “chapters” of the “book” each one revealing another day’s experience.

Rising seas.

Sea tunnels and caverns echo with booming taniwha.

Seeking a safe harbour in the storm.

Pristine beaches on far away islands.

Offshore islands and jeweled waters.

A timeless world.

Endless sea and sky.

This "book" will be exhibited as part of the  
PCANZ "Thinking_Unfolding" artist book exhibition 
which will travel to venues around New Zealand over the next 2 years.

Visit the PCANZ website to keep up to date with the latest venues.

Please visit again if you are interested 
in viewing my process of 
making "Vitamin Sea" 
in a coming blog.

Follow me on Instagram: @tonihartillart 

Follow my facebook page: Toni Hartill

Thanks for visiting!

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