Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Distant Conversations - An Isolation Themed NZ Print Exchange

Back in March, as our borders were closing and our sense of isolation was increasing, printmaker Celia Walker suggested a print exchange as both a distraction and a way of keeping connected.  16 New Zealand printmakers from Northland down to Christchurch have created a beautiful collection of works that will be an evocative memento of this period in time.





The Distant Conversations isolation print exchange was exhibited 


at the Depot Artspace in Devonport 


from Saturday 31 October - 18 November, 2020. 






Distant Conversations Print Exchange, 2020



 The Prints




Communication station, Celia Walker, Auckland

  Drypoint and rust print 


Filtering through the white noise of media releases, radio reports, television broadcasts are other more essential conversations and connections. My daily walks sometimes take me past the radio masts on Takarunga/Mt Victoria – I am not sure what conversations they are receiving but they make me think of short-wave radio networks and half-heard voices from overseas.





Brunch with the Baphomet, Martinus Sarangapany, Coromandel
In search for equilibrium 
We brunch with the Baphomet. 
A deity neither he nor she, 
An in-between, judging nothing, seeing all. 
We twist our tongues, all but lies;
 And are seen. 
“They will be the death of you.” 
“I know.” We reply. 
But how to sever the hydra’s head, 
When one is cut now two instead 
And all be fed. 
Self consumption. 
“Solve and Coagula.” 
And so we eat, 
And digest.

Rongoā Māori, Jasmine Horton, Whangarei

 Double exposure cyanotype 


My series titled ‘Rongoā Māori’ is essentially about the care and co-ordination of our Maori communities that I witnessed during Level 4 Lockdown. I watched Iwi leaders and organisations come together and employ Māori to create rongoā and care packages for our most vulnerable families especially our kuia and kaumatua. It was a beautiful sight to behold. Naturally my concern during this pandemic has been Māori health, our people historically haven’t fared well during flu pandemics and this was, and still is, troubling to me. It was great to see community leaders working together to help protect our people.




And with that a touch,Virginia Guy, Hikurangi

 Solar plate on hahnemuhle paper 


I sneaked just a touch of my wee grandsons hand, it was lockdown and we had not had a day that we hadn't touched, a week was long enough, no one saw. The empty gap between our hands now no more. 




Dreams of Travelling Again, Prue MacDougall, Auckland  

 Hand printed photopolymer intaglio etching 

Paper: vintagepaper.co.uk (J Green and Sons 100% cotton made between 1969 and 1974) Printmaker 

Prue MacDougall often explores themes of journeying, which is now just a dream during the Covid19 Pandemic.

Caution: Not a straight line, Toni Mosley, Auckland


The tin can telephone maybe a distant memory as we now are connected through technology. Even with easier access to each other does not mean it is straight forward as we have multiple platforms to connect and this takes us on a bit of meandering path to each other.

Clouds Rubbing Together, Kim Lowe, Christchurch


Pencil rubbing, gold leaf 

Clouds Rubbing Together is a series of pencil rubbings over woodblock plates. The composition reflects the abstracted land, sea and skyscapes that I've been working on lately in both woodblock and ink painting.

Solus, Oxford, Celia Wilson, Oxford


I miss my lovely old house on the outskirts of Oxford, so this print has a double meaning. I see Mt Oxford from my new home, which makes up for the loss of the old place. A reflection on thoughts that somehow link to lockdown.

Memory Waka, Faith McManus, Kaipara


Reduction woodcut 

The Memory Waka is about a combination of both safety and movement. The Green Mini was purchased by my Grandparents in 1963. I lived with them and they represent all that is beautiful in life and memory to me. When I remember our little green mini waka I feel comforted. Our country Aotearoa reminds me of this little green mini somehow.

Me and My Cat, Rosie Parsonson, Whangarei


This drypoint etching Me and My Cat, is a representation of the fond memories and the conversations my cat and myself pretended to understand, as we walked and played in the garden during our isolation over lockdown this year 2020.

**Untitled, Suzette van Dorsser, Auckland




I experienced the Covid 19 lockdown as drawing the curtains and screening out the outside world. I really enjoyed how layering the woodcuts over the portrait completely changed the perception of the subject. They are immediately rendered 'removed' or 'mysterious' and I love playing with those feelings in my work. I find it fascinating to look past facades, so I masked my portraits with veils. 

Untitled, Suzette van Dorsser, Auckland

**Suzette's prints were all variations on her theme. 
This is the print I received in the exchange.

Stick to your Bubble, Toni Hartill, Auckland   


At a time when we were confined to our homes and our lives had to slow right down, snails seemed to be a particularly apt totem. The snail's habit of withdrawing into its shell when a threat is perceived, and its ability to seal itself away for long periods, being completely self-reliant, seemed especially relevant.
(Click HERE to see an earlier post about the making of this print 
and to purchase one of the last few available prints.)

Empty Passage, Kyla Cresswell, Wellington




 This drypoint reflects the quiet of the usually busy Wellington harbour passage during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. Living on the coast at the harbour entrance, we are in tune with the regularity of the ferries—the thrum of their engines causes the glasses cabinet to rattle while the lights glide by at night—and the numerous freight ships, piled high with colourful containers, have been a subject of my photographs for the last 15 years. There has been a great sense of being connected and made aware of the goings on in the city through seeing the various ships pass. Cruise ships with a load of overseas visitors set to experience Wellington, fishing trawlers with a fresh catch, recreational kayakers, the NIWA boat heading out for scientific research, and yachts setting off for the sounds. It’s easy to imagine the lives and destinations of those on board. We have even been known to wave large colourful blankets from the beach at the ferries to bid our friends on an Interislander goodbye. However, the lockdown ended all cruise ships, the ferries still ran with freight but the harbour was so empty, with few signs of human life. One of the points of connection with the outside world was lost; only the empty harbour passage with the headland of Baring Head and the cry of the black backed gulls remained.

The Sun always Shines, Esther Hansen, Auckland

 Monoprint, Linocut and collage, E.V. 


The pop group A-Ha had a song, The Sun always shines on T.V, it is a song about anxiety, contrasting real life with the world of television. During lockdown the world has felt small and overwhelming at the same time. A sunset is all about perspective, the daily disappearance of the sun below the horizon due to earth’s rotation. It is also a beacon of optimism and hope. Like TV, in a world of art, the sun is always shining. We bear responsibility for bringing light into dark times.


Reverse: The Sun always Shines, Esther Hansen, Auckland

An extra treat with Esther's print is 

there is a bonus print on the back!

Readjustment, Elle Anderson, Taumaranui

 Cyanotype and hand-printed words 


Just before lockdown a log became stranded on the Whanganui River just outside our place - delicately balancing itself on a rock shelf. Waiting to be re-floated and to continue on its way as it was intended - to float gently on the current, partially in charge of its destiny. To maybe one day reach the ocean. During the lockdown a rebalancing needed to occur. A questioning of what and who is important in our lives. readjustment questions this personal rebalancing, that may have gotten out of balance prior to the 4 weeks of imposed stay at home time. Are you in charge of your destiny? Or do you just go with the flow and hope you end up where you intended to be?

Care, Kathy Boyle, Hawkes Bay

 Waterless lithography and relief 


Over the last few months I have been recording the social distancing signage on the floors of public spaces. The noughts and crosses acted as visual reminder to us maintain a safe distance from each other and endorsed the message of care for others, reminiscent of the symbols we use for hugs and kisses.

I'd like to thank Celia for organising this exchange, for inviting ME to take part, 

and for making possible the opportunity to exhibit the collection.

I'd also like to thank each of the participating artists 

for taking part and sharing their fabulous works.


This will most definitely be a collection of works to be treasured,

and to look back on as marking this time in our lives with a particular poignancy.

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Home as a Sanctuary - XL copper sulphate etching


"Home as a Sanctuary", Toni Hartill

Aluminium etched with copper sulphate
Plate size: 300mm x 585mm

This work was created soon after our initial full lockdown, due to the covid pandemic. My heart and mind was very much inspired by trying to capture a sense of the many emotions that had emerged as a result of our perilous place in the world at present.



Preparatory drawing, Toni Hartill


Prior to covid I had already decided to create an ongoing series of works based on the concept of artifacts within a protective dome. Seems, eerily, like a premonition in retrospect.



Earlier A5 sized snail plate and print, Toni Hartill


Having already created an A5 etched image of kauri snails in a dome, I was curious for the challenge of developing this concept further but at a much larger scale and therefore with a lot more detail. Would I be able to manage the etching process at this scale? And would I then be able to print successfully from such a large plate? The answer to both was yes, but yes, it was also certainly challenging!



The etched aluminium plate, Toni Hartill

 Scroll down to view more process pics.


As mentioned in an earlier post, snails seem to have become a totem creature for me and I was inspired to attempt to use the kauri snail as a means to gather and convey my thoughts. With much of the world being encouraged, if not ordered, to stay at home, while many were also trying to get home from overseas, it felt as if, globally, we were all retreating in some way. Returning to our family, to our homes, to our physical and spiritual place of belonging, to a place we felt most safe. For a brief while, in New Zealand at least, we were isolating ourselves within our "bubbles", our protective domes. Very quickly we seemed to accept that our “worlds” would need to shrink back to include our own “back yard”, with overseas travel being off the cards indefinitely for the foreseeable future.



"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

 Scroll down for more detail pics.


For many, although not all, of course, this imposed containment has perhaps come as a welcome relief from the frenzied pace that modern life seems to have become. I, for one, am quietly grateful for a slower pace and time to reflect on what really matters. At the heart of this, for me, is the sense that “home” and family are at the core of our being. In this image we see the endangered kauri snails amongst the leaf litter of the kauri tree, which is found only in the north of the North Island of New Zealand. (The kauri tree is fighting its own battle against a deadly pathogen too, at present.) This is their home. This is my home. This is where I am from, where my ancestors settled, where generations have lived. It’s what I know, it’s what I’m familiar with. It’s my place of belonging, my place to stand, my tūrangawaewae.


"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill


In trying to decide on a fitting title for this work I tossed around many phrases until I settled on my final choice. With the concepts of tūrangawaewae front of mind, I came upon this quote which seems very apt:


“Most people have forgotten nowadays what a house can mean, 

though some of us have come to realize it as never before. 

It is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, 

a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, 

a refuge, 

even a sanctuary.”  


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Letters and Papers from Prison”



Written while in prison c.1945 under very different circumstances yet it conveys the importance of “home”, especially in a time of turmoil, and still rings true today.  Sadly, a home in the physical sense, is not always a sanctuary, as has been highlighted during lockdown events. However, whether it be a place, a person or group of people, a belonging, or even a sense of being, "home" can perhaps be held as a sanctuary in our hearts and in some ways we can be "at home" wherever we may be by holding close what really matters.



"Home as a Sanctuary" Detail Pics

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill

"Home as a Sanctuary" (detail), Toni Hartill



 Process Pics



The completed Plate

The etched plate is a thing of beauty in its own right. I am in love with the incredible variation and intricacies of marks that this etching process can achieve using a myriad of tools and materials to manipulate the way that the copper sulphate solution reacts to the metal's surface.
I've been told, by other artists who work with this medium, that's it's not an easy technique to control. And yes, its certainly true that a moment's inattention could lead to a ruined plate. However, the uncontrolled aspects of this and many printmaking processes is what appeals to me. I very much like  that unexpected things WILL happen and it is so often these quirky "mistakes" that I see as "happy accidents" and, when celebrated and embraced, can be the making of a work. 

"Home as a Sanctuary" Etched aluminium plate, Toni Hartill

Merit Award for Printmaking

And finally,

I'm delighted that my framed piece won the 

Merit Award for Printmaking

in the Hibiscus and Bays Art Awards 2020

at  Estuary Arts Centre, Orewa.


 Thanks so much for visiting!



Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Letters and Papers from Prison”