Monday, 30 May 2022

Auckland Museum Acquisitions

Auckland Museum Acquisitions from Artful Narratives

I am so very delighted and honoured that the Auckland War Memorial Museum 

has purchased a number of pieces from my exhibition Artful Narratives 

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 

...are all off to their new home soon! And oh what a home!

It's exciting to realise that this revered home of our national taonga is eager to add artists' voices to the artefacts held in their special collections, to enhance and enrich the stories of our natural and social history, particularly of the Auckland and Northland region.

I'm very grateful to Paula Legel, Associate Curator, for spying my blog post on the Auckland Research Centre's Heritage et Al blogsite, and leading the way for these works to be acquisitioned.

CLICK on the links in the titles below, 

to go to earlier posts about each of these works.

The Butter Book


Coptic stitched book 

Linocut, collagraph, digital 


The timber of the Kahikatea was found to be perfect for transporting butter and cheese by refrigerated ship to the UK. The soft, pale, odourless timber did not taint the dairy products on their long journey. As a result the Kahikatea forests were reduced by 63% in the peak period of 1909 – 1917 due to the flurry of activity to export NZ’s dairy products. 

In 1913 a Royal Commission was asked to decide how the areas of New Zealand “still under standing forest” should be dealt with. The response in regards to the Kahikatea swamps was clear. This quote is included within the butter book: 

‘As is well known the soil of the white-pine swamps, when drained and the trees removed, forms one of the richest of agricultural land, which when grassed, is extremely useful for dairy farms… Since no land is more suitable for occupation than that of the white-pine swamps, when drained… their value in this regard is a strong plea in favour of the removal of the trees forthwith.’ 

Once a Grand and Noble Forest...


Stab binding 

Linocut, collagraph, vintage silk ribbon  


This book was inspired by 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. 


Link to the full newspaper article that inspired this work:

There Be Treasure


Original 3D Structure 

Caustic etch lino, lino cut, monotype, papercut, crochet, wire 

Pop-up theatres, shoe-box dioramas and press-and-fold paper toys all spark the nostalgia of childhood memories, of the magic of taking a two dimensional image and transforming it into a three dimensional "world". In this artwork I venture to reignite the viewer's magical childhood powers of imagination to step through the looking glass and enter the Lilliputian world of this rocky pool. My often visited theme of rock pools stems from my fascination since childhood of these mini microcosms abundant along our shores, each one unique in its inhabitants and ecology, tiny treasure chests of the sea. 

Field Notes: Manawa


Concertina book 

Drypoint, collagraph, watercolour 

Edition of 3, Book no. 1/3


Drawn by the appeal of a weathered and much handled book, that collects information over time and becomes a treasured artefact in itself, these books were inspired by my grandfather’s surveying logbooks, kept over many years.  


They are made entirely out of printed paper textures to imitate weathered surfaces such as the linen lining, the leather cover and the stitched label. Of course every field trip needs some tools of the trade hence the pocket of pretend treasures. I have always been interested in recreating something to look like the real thing, hence the pocket of fake treasures and tools. 



and from the body of work "In Residence, In Residence" 

created in response to the first lockdown in March 2020:


Folded structures 

Inkjet-printed photography on paper and card, hand cut and folded 


This unexpected body of work came about in response to the experience of the whole country, in fact most of the world, being in “Lockdown” during March – May 2020, due to the Covid pandemic. 

Feeling unsettled and unnerved I directed my attention to look more closely at my immediate surroundings, my home of 27 years.  Unable to focus my energies on the complexities of my usual printmaking processes, and in need of a more direct approach, I found myself photographing my house and garden in intimate detail, searching for the aspects that have tied my heart strings to this location for so long.

Considering concepts of being locked in, enclosed, and contained, I began creating folded and manipulated structures to express ideas that reflected this period of isolation and confinement. The angst of feeling hemmed in, restrained and restricted was tempered with gratitude for feeling safe, cocooned and protected.  

From folding boxes made from views of the house, looking outwards and looking inwards, I progressed to exploring the entire garden considering the property boundaries as if a container in which I was boxed, peeking outwards and peering inwards through fences and gardens, (while being mildly mindful of what the neighbours might be thinking if they saw me skulking in the shrubbery!) 

This “unprecedented” period of isolation provided the perfect opportunity for new ideas and ways of working to develop and evolve without the temptation of outside distractions and commitments. 



In this piece I was very mindful of missing family and friends and of how it wasn't possible at the time to welcome people through my front gate as I normally would. Visitors would have to peer through the gateway to the house but not cross the boundary and conversations would have to be had from a distance. 


Fenced In

This piece was developed towards the end of what felt like a long period of containment, within my own home and garden. I was exploring the outer limits of the boundary between us and the neighbours, imagining them on the other side of the fence, also contained. Who was peering at who, through the fences? As it turned out, this was just the first of many lockdowns and certainly not the longest for us in Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland.

It seems incredible to think that one day I might visit the museum 

to see my own work displayed within their collections!

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Auckland War Memorial Museum

Last pic reposted from @aucklandmuseum

Inside the Auckland War Memorial Museum grand entrance

As my exhibition draws to a close in the next couple of days, 

be sure to pop back for some updates on other developments 

and a wrap-up, summarising this experience of 

holding my first ever solo exhibition. 

Then, it will be full steam ahead, working towards new deadlines 

and goals for the coming months and year ahead. 

I hope you'll continue to join me!

Saturday, 14 May 2022

"Once a Grand & Noble Forest..." Artist book


"Once a Grand & Noble Forest..." by Toni Hartill

2019, Stab binding, Linocut, collograph

A quiet contemplation of the loss of the Kahikatea forests of NZ.

Inspired by a quote from an article in the NZ Herald, 1937.

Modelled on an old photo album, complete with vintage silk ribbon.

"Once a Grand & Noble Forest..." by Toni Hartill

This book is currently on display as part of my solo exhibition 

Artful Narratives
2 April - 2 June, 2022

Angela Morton Room
Level 1, Takapuna Library
Auckland, NZ

To view these works up close,
I will be presenting my FINAL two artist talks
in the Angela Morton Room on

Wed May 18th, 11am

Sat May 28th, 1pm

Please arrive a few minutes early.
Masks are still required inside the library.

"Once a Grand & Noble Forest..." by Toni Hartill

"The Butter Book" by Toni Hartill

"Imagined Journeys Through Lost Forests I, II, III" by Toni Hartill

Inspiration and earlier blog posts

This book was created as part of a larger body of work focussing attention on the destruction of the once mighty kahikatea forests of New Zealand, particularly of the Hauraki Plains. 

The Butter Book by Toni Hartill

This work includes the Butter Book which was created to highlight the fact that the timber 

was perfectly suited to the production of boxes to transport butter to the UK. 

Read about the creation of the BUTTER BOOK here.

Imagined Journeys Through Lost Landscapes by Toni Hartill

Also included in this body of work are the three small meander books "Imagined Journeys Through Lost Landscapes I, II, III". In creating these watery paintings I attempt to revisit the landscapes that once were the swamps of the Hauraki Plains and feel bereft for all we have lost.

Read the blog post "Imagined Journeys Through Lost Landscapes I, II, III" here.

Initial research into the disappearance of the kahikatea forests 

including on-location photography.

Just prior to my exhibition opening I had a blog published on Heritage et Al by the Auckland Libraries and Research Centres:

Heritage Et Al Blog: Artful Narratives and the Destruction of the Kahikatea Forests

"Where the Village Slew the Forest"

  While researching the history of the transformation of the Hauraki Plains from majestic forest to lush pastural land I came across a newspaper article written by a descendant of the Le Baigneau/Bagnall brothers who ran a mill on the banks of the Waihou River at Turua. 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. I found the language used to be incredibly poetic and emotive and couldn't help but be moved by the writing and inspired to create this book. 

I can't seem to read the article without a lump forming in my throat and tears welling.

Detail from "Once a Grand & Noble Forest..."

A short excerpt from the article is included at the back of the book:

“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. 

The full news article can be read online on the Papers Past website by the National Library of NZ:

Text only HERE

The newspaper page as it appeared in 1937 HERE.

Turning the pages

As the pages turn, the trees become ghostly in transparent layers, 

and thin out to be the mere straggly remnants we see today.

As a child, traveling to visit my grandparents, I could never understand 

why these trees were in such sad little huddles on the plains.  

Now I do.

Making Of

Sketchbook inspiration, working from photographs taken on location on the Hauraki Plains.

Creating the lino plates and printing the pages

Constructing the book

and completed

I hope that this body of work has helped to share some of the stories of the history of our nation with a wider audience and, in turn, that it encourages more people to be mindful of what we have lost and what we need to do to protect and nurture what we still have.


Since publishing this post I have just leant of the resource DigitalNZ.

Created by the National Library of NZ, DIGITALNZ is a free to use search site for OPEN NZ CONTENT from more than 200 organisations, taking you right to the source of the material you are searching.

OF COURSE: I threw in some key words to see what I might discover and found this article written by (one assumes) the same Le Baigneau who wrote the article above.

This one is published 2 years PRIOR and describes, in the same poetic and emotive tones, the demise of the old mill at Turua that his grandfather established. 

Take a read and be transported!


Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974


By (le Baigneau) STANLEY W. BAGNALL

Thanks for visiting!

Monday, 2 May 2022

Fibre Arts Take Two, Friday Feature Artist, LIVE Interview


Fibre Arts Take Two 

 invited me to be their 

Friday Feature Artist 

and so I did a


with team member & mixed media artist extraordinaire

Tara Axford (!!) 

on Saturday 30 April at 10am New Zealand time

(8am Australian time). 

Follow @tara.axford on Instagram HERE


As the interviews are global, the interviews are done on either the Friday or Saturday depending on the time zone of the interviewee. 

What is Fibre Arts Take Two??

Fibre Arts Take Two, is a family owned business based, in Melbourne, Australia, that collaborates with fibre and mixed media artists all over the world to create quality online learning experiences.

Last year they created the Friday Feature Artist LIVE Interviews 
as a way of connecting their audience, promoting artists and 
further championing art textiles.
The interviews can be viewed 
LIVE on Facebook or YouTube 
or are available to view at anytime on their YouTube channel. 

There you will find a growing library of over 60 interviews 
with artists from all over the world.

On Facebook & Instagram:


Join the LIVE interviews on Facebook 
or you can also join in on the YouTube channel.

There is also a Facebook Private Group: 
Fibre Arts Take Two Community
where members can connect and share their experiences 
with a like-minded community.


Here you can enrol for online workshops or register your interest 
for advanced notifications when enrolments open. 

Also SUBSCRIBE to the newsletter to get reminders, 
latest news updates and a heads-up to register for coming workshops.


SUBSCRIBE to the channel or drop in at any time to watch past interviews.

Connect to the LIVE interviews on the channel 
where you can participate in the live chat, ask questions or just say HI!

Many thanks to everyone who joined us!

It was wonderful to see so many familiar names pop up 
on the screen, plus people from all over the globe! 

And thanks for your lovely comments and your many questions too. 
Unfortunately we couldn't answer all the questions as the 
hour absolutely FLEW past and we had 
so MUCH to talk about. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any burning questions 
you would like answered.