Friday, 19 August 2022

Kōkako Linocut - Song of Hope for Predator Free NZ 2050

"Hope", Limited edition linocut, by Toni Hartill

My recent linocut "Hope", expressing the new found hope for the endangered North Island kōkako, will be exhibited as part of the Predator Free NZ 2050 exhibitions, opening soon in the Auckland region.

"Hope", Limited edition linocut, by Toni Hartill


Good news story: 

Record number of kōkako breeding pairs counted in the Hunua Ranges. 

At last, something to sing about!

A record number of 229 adult kōkako breeding pairs have been counted in the Hunua Ranges, as reported in June 2022*, up from 106 pairs in 2018, and just 25 birds in 1994!

While the idea of Aotearoa being “predator free” by 2050 seems like an incredibly lofty goal, this news is a strong sign of hope for the North Island kōkako, and, in turn, for many other native species. On closer inspection, the aim of the Predatorfree2050 campaign focuses on the elimination specifically of rats, possums and mustelids and thanks to the supreme efforts of dedicated volunteers and conservationists across the country, this goal is looking entirely achievable.

Feeling constantly harangued by endless “bad news” stories, this news rang out loud and clear as an absolute song of hope for the future.

FURTHER READING: Kōkako Thriving in Auckland's Hunua Ranges, June 2022

"The targeted management area has been using 3000 bait stations and 200 traps a year, aimed at catching pests like possums, rats and mustelids..." 

NZGeographic: Kōkako

"With resurging numbers... conservationists are optimistic 
that their haunting song will again flood through the forests of the North Island." 

Scroll to the end of this post for more links on the progress 
being made to rebuild the kōkako population.

Predator Free NZ 2050

40 invited NZ artists are taking part in the 

Predator Free New Zealand 2050 exhibitions, 

planned and curated by Valerie Cuthbert, 

to highlight the progress and understanding 

of this incredible goal. 

Estuary Arts Centre

214B Hibiscus Coast Highway, Orewa

5th September - 2 October, 2022

Opening event: Sat 10th September, 3-5pm


Auckland Botanic Gardens

102 Hill Road, Manurewa

21 October - 14 November, 2022

The Making of HOPE

Trying to capture their song!

Carved "Hope" lino by Toni Hartill

Once I decided to celebrate the success of the kōkako population in Auckland's Hunua Ranges, I really wanted to capture their song as this, along with their striking blue wattles, is what makes these beautiful birds so distinct. 

Detail of " Hope" linocut by Toni Hartill

It was been said that the kōkako has 

Detail of " Hope" linocut by Toni Hartill

I've been lucky enough to see and hear kōkako up close in the "wild" and they are truly enchanting. Not great fliers they tend to hop and glide through the forest using their strong, long legs to maintain forward momentum by springing off branches, while flapping their stumpy wings to maintain height. 

Carved "Hope" lino, in progress, by Toni Hartill

In designing my composition I perched a breeding pair amongst native flora,
overlooking Auckland's Hunua Ranges. 

Carved "Hope" lino, in progress, by Toni Hartill

Related to the long extinct and iconic Huia, to see these birds thrive and to rebuild their population is incredibly special and exciting. The work done to protect the kōkako is in turn helping other native species such as the kākā, tomtits, bellbirds, long-tiled bats and Hochstetters frogs which is wonderful indeed! 

All a reason for renewed hope for the future 
and to support the continuation of this incredibly important work.

Drawing & Researching




Colour mixing


Colouring the Wattles



"Hope", Linocut, Limited edition print by Toni Hartill


Edition of 15
Image size: A3, 297 x 420 mm
Paper size: A2, 420 x 594mm

Framed: $385
(A2 Natural Timber Frame)

Unframed: $235 
(Packaged in cello sleeve with backing board and mat.)

"Hope" will be available 
to purchase, framed and unframed at

Estuary Arts Centre, Orewa, 

5th September - 2 October, 2022

Opening event: Sat 10th September, 3-5pm


Auckland Botanic Gardens

21 October - 14 November, 2022

Or CONTACT me direct.

Many thanks for visiting!

For more information about kōkako visit: 

North Island kōkako recovery plan and how you can help.

Did you know?

"In Māori myth, the kōkako filled it's wattles with water and brought it to Maui as he fought the sun. Maui rewarded the bird by making it's legs long and slender, enabling it to bound through the forest with ease."

Pest control allows Pureora kōkako to flourish.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Artful Narratives - Summing Up

This post is a summing up of the many opportunities that came about as a result of my exhibition. I have written about some of these events previously and you will find links elsewhere on my blog, however this post aims to sum it all up in one post for ease of reading, and future reference. 

I also include links to view videos of the exhibition on my YouTube Channel, for those who couldn't make it in person.

(My blog is an invaluable personal digital portfolio of my practice so this is as much for "future me" as for anyone else who may be interested.)

Artful Narratives, Angela Morton Room, Takapuna Library

Artful Narratives, Angela Morton Room, Takapuna Library

My first ever solo exhibition Artful Narratives was presented in the Angela Morton Room at Takapuna library earlier this year. I have exhibited in many group exhibitions and participated in many collaborative projects but, until this opportunity came up, I had avoided the idea of a solo for a number of reasons, the two main reasons being cost (knowing that many artists can barely cover their costs even after selling well during their show) and also I never felt I had a substantial enough body of work that deserved all the fuss.

That was until the opportunity to exhibit in the Angela Morton Room came up! 

Artful Narratives, Angela Morton Room, Takapuna Library

While co-curating a group show in the space I suddenly thought: 

Hmmm I could FILL this space with my own artist books! 

And so I did!


Artful Narratives: Ngunguru & Mangroves artist books and layered prints

A Surprising Learning Experience

The experience of planning, designing, managing and presenting this exhibition was an incredible learning experience. Putting myself in front of an audience, repeatedly, to talk about my work and answer many questions delving into my practice and processes, was a series of illuminating light-bulb moments. I was very surprised to discover so much about my own work, things I didn't realise until I spoke my thoughts out loud to others. 

I found the whole experience, including the many positive responses I received, very affirming and uplifting. It has helped me to feel inspired to have more belief in my own work and not to be swayed and stifled so much by my inner critic. I shall try to remember this when I have confidence wobbles in the future.

In Residence, In Residence, created during Lockdown March 2020

My goal with this exhibition was to present my large accumulation of artist books and sculptural works, created between 2016 and 2021, as a single body of work, so that each work could be seen in context with other pieces, and to provide an insight into my ways of working. Seeing my own work in this way was something of a revelation, to realise that my work actually does appear to have a cohesiveness despite dabbling in so many things. Exhibiting these pieces collectively has also allowed me to move forward with new work and to be ready to "let many pieces go" to new homes.

Artful Narratives artist talk: 7 April, 2022

The Joys of  Connecting with People

One of the real joys of presenting my work like this, and importantly to me, sharing the stories behind the works, was connecting with the many visitors to the show: 

 Hearing stories of personal connections to some of the themes in the exhibition 
was so interesting and inspiring for new trains of thought and research, more "rabbit holes!"

Introducing visitors to the magical world of artist's books was exciting, 
seeing their eyes light up at the idea that these artworks can be manipulated and explored. 

Meeting other artists working in a variety of media, 
but united through similar interests, is always inspiring.

Artful Narratives, Angela Morton Room


SCROLL DOWN to view:

The Catalogue Video

A Walk-through Video of the exhibition

The Slideshow Video as seen in the exhibition

My Heritage et Al blog post

My interview in the Rangitoto Observer

My interview for Ina Arraoui's Print Community

My LIVE Fibre Arts Take Two Interview

An overview of the Artist Talks

My Unfolding Ideas Workshop

Auckland Museum Acquisitions

Auckland Library Acquisition and Gift

Artist's Books in Aotearoa, NZ

But what, exactly, is an artist's book?


Artful Narratives Catalogue

Artful Narratives catalogue

Artful Narratives catalogue

I designed my catalogue to be made from a single piece of folded paper, opening up like a little book. A ridiculous amount of time and energy went into getting it just so (having never created artwork for print before), and then, with various lockdowns delaying the opening, amending the artwork to remove any dates, to cover all eventualities of future lockdowns or delays.

View the Catalogue by visiting my YouTube clip HERE.


For those who couldn't make it along in person, 

or for those who would like to revisit, 

I started a YouTube Channel (!) 

where you can view the exhibition.


View a Speedy Tour of some pieces from Artful Narratives

Diatom II, Artful Narratives

View a Speedy Tour of some of the pieces from Artful Narratives 

on my YouTube Channel HERE.


View a Walk-through of Artful Narratives

Artful Narratives, Angela Morton Room, Takapuna Library, Auckland

View a walk-through of my Artful Narratives exhibition on my YouTube Channel HERE.

This video shows how the exhibition is presented in the space and gives an overview of the "feel" of the exhibition and how the works form a large cohesive body of work.


View the Artful Narratives Slideshow

Slideshow, Artful Narratives, YouTube: Toni Hartill Art

View the slideshow, as seen in the exhibition, on my YouTube Channel HERE.

This slideshow includes images of all of the pieces in the exhibition plus some process shots and behind-the-scenes, helping to give context to the works.

NOTE: I intend to add more videos showcasing a few of the works in the exhibition so you are welcome to SUBSCRIBE  to be notified of new uploads or check back anytime.


Heritage et Al Blog Post

Many thanks to Leanne Radojkovich, I was invited to write an article for the Auckland Research Centre's blog Heritage et Al. Amazingly, as a result of my article, I was approached by the Auckland Museum who was interested in purchasing some of my pieces. More about this later.


Interview: Rangitoto Observer

Scroll to pages 14 & 15. 
My rookie nerves were soon put at ease by Janetta 
and this lovely overview was published, perfectly timed for the opening.


Interview: Ina Arraoui Print Community

I had the pleasure of sitting down with artist and curator Ina Arraoui prior to my exhibition opening, to discuss  the inspirations and motivations behind my work in this exhibition and what it is about printmaking that lured me in and keeps me enthralled. 


LIVE Interview: Fibre Arts Take Two

Well, I never expected this might be a thing I would do!

Unbelievably, Fibre Arts Take Two invited me to be one of their Friday Feature Artists and so on Sat (NZ time) 30 April, 2022, I had the absolute thrill of "meeting": Tara Axford and chatting, at speed, about the many aspects of my work. 

Read some background and how this came about in my previous blog post HERE.

View the interview on YouTube HERE.

View the interview on Facebook HERE.


Artist Talks

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking... I offered a series of artist talks, providing the opportunity for visitors to have a guided tour through the cabinets and to view the artworks being handled and manipulated, the way they are meant to be fully appreciated. Also, sharing the stories and inspirations behind the pieces, and offering an insight in how the pieces were made, all added to the engagement of the audiences and many questions were asked and experiences shared.

Admittedly, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the number of attendees on some days but it was very heartening to realise that so many people were genuinely interested in my work and/or wanting to find out more about artist's books. 

7 April

22 April

6 May

A special "tour" was held for printmakers who had travelled from as far away 
as Dunedin, Wellington and Taupo to attend the Printopia Festival.

28 May

I extend my heartfelt THANKS to the many people who attended my artist talks!

Your interest and engagement in my work is incredibly encouraging 
and inspires me to continue to do what I do.


Unfolding Ideas Workshop, Printopia Festival '22

Cunningly co-ordinating my rescheduled dates for my exhibition with the rescheduled dates for the Printopia Festival (due to lockdowns of course), I was invited to run a shortened version of my Unfolding Ideas Workshop. Surprisingly it booked out quick-smart and on Sunday 8th May an enthusiastic group of printmakers joined me for 3 hours of speed-folding and brain-stretching. We managed to squeeze in a lot and everyone went away with a full set of marquettes for future ideas of taking their printmaking (and repurposed papers) to the third dimension. 

Printopia 2023 planning is well underway so follow online 

for dates and programming.


Auckland Museum Acquisitions

I am so very delighted and honoured that the Auckland War Memorial Museum 
purchased a number of pieces from my exhibition to add to their special collections:

The Butter Book

Once a Grand & Noble Forest...

There Be Treasure (Rockpool)

Field Notes: Manawa, 1/3


Fenced In

Read my earlier blog post about Auckland Museum's acquisitions HERE.


Auckland Libraries Acquisition & Gift

Lost Forests of the Plains II & AN Memento Box, Angela Morton Archive Room

Artful Narratives Memento Box, Angela Morton Room Special Collection

I am so thrilled and honoured that one of my large cascade artist books, "Lost Forests of the Plains II", was purchased by Auckland Libraries to be added to the Angela Morton Room Special Collection. 

Also, in sincere appreciation for the opportunities provided to me, and for the ongoing support from Leanne Radojkovich, Research Librarian of the Angela Morton Room, and Auckland Libraries, I created a special Artful Narratives Memento Box to be gifted to the special collection.

Read my earlier blog post about these pieces, now held in the special collection, HERE.


Finally, one of my goals with Artful Narratives was to introduce a wider audience to the concept of artist's books. To provide some background and context I included the following information for visitors to consider. 

Artist's Books in Aotearoa New Zealand

Whichever way the title is punctuated, there’s no doubt that artist’s books are an increasingly popular way for artists to express ideas, explore materials & challenge conventions.

Existing at the intersection of printmaking, mixed media, visual arts, photography, book binding, poetry, experimental narrative, letterpress, graphic design and publishing (among others), artist’s books are making a place for themselves in the collections of libraries, museums, bibliophiles, artists and art collectors. Internationally, artist’s books have a high profile in their own specialist galleries, competitions, book fairs, conferences, special collections and archives.

In Aotearoa, artist’s books have flown well under the radar, known mostly by artists who work in the field, but not well known by a broader audience. That is changing, however!

Many artists create artist’s books as part of their arts practice, but tend not to exhibit them widely due to the fact that art galleries are rarely suited to safely and satisfactorily exhibiting these diverse sculptural works. Organisations in NZ such as PCANZ (Print Council Aotearoa NZ), ABC (Association of Book Crafts), AHP (Association of Handcraft Printers) and many in the fibre arts world, among others, each hold events and encourage the creation of artist’s books within their memberships.

The Angela Morton Room Special Collection archives a steadily growing collection of these taonga, as do other major institutions in NZ, and these collections are often able to be viewed by request.


"But what, exactly, is an artist's book?"

"You may not be able to tell just from looking at the object itself! The simple answer to someone not familiar with artists’ books might be: art in book form. But they are not quite so simple…

An artist’s book is a medium of artistic expression that uses the form or function of “book” as inspiration. It is the artistic initiative seen in the illustration, choice of materials, creation process, layout and design that makes it an art object. A book that only contains text is simply a book; even if authored by an artist, it would be a book that belongs in a book store or the shelves of a library.

What truly makes an artist’s book is the artist’s intent, and artists have used the book as inspiration in a myriad of ways and techniques, from traditional to the experimental. The book could be made through fine press printing or hand-crafted, the pages illustrated with computer-generated images or cheap photocopies; books became sculptures, tiny and gargantuan; books were sliced up and reconfigured, made from all kinds of materials with unconventional objects incorporated, in unique or limited editions, or produced in multiple copies. With all sorts of ideas behind them, artists continue to challenge the idea, content and structure of the traditional book.”


An excerpt from: Smithsonian Library Blog: 


In finally summing up Artful Narratives, I feel excited to now set my sights on new goals and to re-engage with new work for future projects, which I look forward to sharing with you. 

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