Thursday, 26 November 2015

Art print publisher devastated by arson attack overnight

We were absolutely shocked to learn that local art print publisher Image Vault was the victim of an arson attack in the early hours of this morning.  The current owners had only purchased the business back in July of this year.  Christchurch businesses have been through a lot over the past five years, and this event is yet another of those unpredictable "black swans",  but also one that couldn't come at a worse time of year for a business that supplies the Xmas gift market and are at the height of their print production schedule.  We are heartened by the fact Carl and Nicola are reported as saying they were fully insured and able to start printing again at temporary premises and our staff will be offering every assistance to them in the coming days.

The first thing my mother said when she heard of this was to text me that this was the same time of year as our "factory fire".  This reminded me of one of my earliest memories - which is of the fire that gutted our family's picture moulding factory back in the late 1970s. Not arson, this was caused by thinners spontaneously igniting in the dangerous goods store and the intense heat was such that it melted the steel girders of our building in Carlisle St. I remember being lifted up to look into the cab of the fire engine and the smell of the fire.  This was the second time Avon Fine Prints (as New Zealand Fine Prints was known as back then) had been hit by fire, their office above the National Party headquarters in Christchurch had also caught fire when my parents were on an overseas trip in the late 1960s, they returned home to find that their staff had relocated back to the sitting room of their house!

I hope that our business's experience of recovering from similarly devastating fires a long time ago means that the path back to normality for Image Vault will not as long or as hard as it must seem from the vantage point of today for Carl, Nicola, Jen, Amanda and Tony at Image Vault today.

Print on demand and hopefully cloud storage of their catalogue of files that they need to print canvas art prints will mean technically they can be back in business quite quickly, but the framing side of Image Vault's business may take longer to recover due to the loss of equipment and supplies - we may not be able to offer the standard box framing on their titles for at least a few weeks.  We are also concerned that because their back stock of off-set prints will have been lost many of their older titles from artists like Grahame Sydney, Diana Adams, Barry Ross Smith, Jason Kelly etc may not be able to be re-printed on demand as the contracts with the artists last only as long as physical stock was on hand.  NZ Fine Prints hold a few months worth of stock of most of these titles but this may mean some popular prints may be deleted well before the editions would have sold out naturally.

The earthquakes were incredibly disruptive but print buyers were overwhelmingly supportive and understanding of delays as we all juggled frantically behind the scenes to get their orders shipped. In the weeks following the Feb 22nd quake we had just one customer cancel their print order. This is another of those times that we will do our very best to let you know immediately if there will be a delay in shipping your order and in return ask for a bit of leeway if your print is delivered outside our normal delivery guidelines due to this devastating fire at one of our favourite suppliers.  

Friday, 30 October 2015

NZ Artists celebrate rugby, our national sport

"Rise Up" print by Barry Ross Smith
With the final of the 2015 rugby world cup this weekend today we are featuring prints for sale of artworks by NZ artists that feature our national sport.  This time there has been no commissioned art by the world cup, unlike the 2011 rugby world cup in New Zealand when Dick Frizzell was commissioned by the organisers to produce a series of limited edition screenprints (the unsold prints were purchased by a couple of ex- All Blacks and will no doubt resurface shortly if NZ wins the 2015 tournament).

One of our favourite pieces of NZ sporting art is "Rise Up" by Barry Ross Smith.  He's not a dispassionate observer of the game like British born but NZ resident artist David John with his now venerable "changing room" series, Smith is a passionate supporter of rugby.  His painting depicts the haka as performed by bull like rugby players, simultaneously referencing Greek legend, our most famous team and NZ's farming heritage that features so strongly in his work.

Now just about sold out - so I won't add a link to the print on our website - is a nice historical print of NZ's first game of rugby, between this writer's old school - Nelson College and a team of non-school players from Nelson in Paul Wilding's "The College vs Town".

NZ's First Game of Rugby - Artist Paul Wilding
Issues around licensing mean that artists can't depict actual players or official New Zealand team playing strips, in a series published by Christchurch art print publisher Image Vault Julia Drake valiantly attempted to depict a rugby match without breaching the All Blacks ferociously enforced copyright.

Old Rugby Boots - Dick Frizzell Limited Edition Print
Haka Actions (Kia Kaha Kid)
There is no reason why our sporting success can't be celebrated in art, earlier in the year we called for more, not less, sporting art but only Dick Frizzell seems to be open to respond-ing to the obvious market demand for prints of rugby - win or lose in the cup final this weekend this is one subject that will be on NZ's walls for as long as we are selling art prints to New Zealanders.  From both ends of the pricing spectrum here is "Kiha Kaha Kid" - the actions of the New Zealand rugby team's haka performed by Dick's character of the same name ($49.95) and his $1050 screenprint of a pair of rugby boots (Old Boots) treated with all the seriousness of a painting of the high Renaissance.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Printmaking Process - Screenprinting with NZ artist Tony Ogle

In this very short video you can watch the successive colours being added to a new screenprint by NZ printmaker Tony Ogle.   We put together a slide show of photographs taken in his studio over the past month. Each colour is hand-mixed then added layer by layer.  The print he is working on is his latest limited edition screenprint "Harotaonga" released in September 2015.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Vintage Maps of NZ - new ranges of prints

New Zealand by Captain James Cook
The recent acquisition of the entire range of reproduction prints of some of NZ's most famous antique maps from Wellington publisher Thorndon Fine Prints is not the only news on the map front here at New Zealand Fine Prints. Although the decorative antique maps based on the charts of Captain Cook are consistently among the top selling prints in New Zealand we knew that there is another rich vein of highly decorative vintage maps in official government publications and commercially produced atlases.

Maps have been framed as wall art for hundreds of years, although the original maps are very expensive due to their rarity and age superb quality reproduction prints can be re-printed where the original maps are in good condition.

The decision of whether to clean up the wear and tear of the antique maps is one that each publisher wrestles with, our view is that reproducing the fold lines on an original map does not detract from its decorative appeal on the wall - the patina of age does in fact add interest and authenticity (without pretending to be an actual original antique map of course!).

The new print in stock from Thorndon Fine Prints of the highly decorative chart of NZ drawn by Cassini (shown here) is a great example of an exact replica/facsimile that reproduces folds, foxing and of course the unique hand colouring of the original map.

Vintage Wall Chart Style Maps on Canvas

The wall chart style vintage maps that have been printed on canvas are an interesting new product.
Vintage NZ Map, Wall Chart Style
Customers appreciate purchasing a map that is ready to hang - and the old school aged wooden hangers and rope together with the just the right shade of canvas colour works really well.  We like the fact that because we can still roll these vintage maps on canvas up to place in our standard mailing tubes we can deliver them at our standard delivery charge ($6 NZ, $15 worldwide) rather than the framed print shipping cost of $20!

However as with all new products our catalogue manager's enthusiasm for the category may not be matched by actual sales (this writer is looking at all those vintage letterpress posters). We have sold a couple of dozen of the wall chart style vintage maps in the past couple of weeks so we are hopeful that this is a good start that will build as more people see the maps in real life hanging on the walls of homes and offices.

Our complete collection of vintage maps, prints of antique maps and of course a modern day NZ map poster that we have for sale can be viewed here in our map collection.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Thorndon Fine Prints - Publisher of Early NZ Maps & Evelyn Page Prints

We were sad to hear of the recent death of Sebastian Page.  The founder of Wellington's Thorndon Fine Prints had let us know that he was selling the business due to ill-health a few months ago.  In my role as the catalogue manager for NZ Fine Prints I have been purchasing from Thorndon from the time I first graduated from Otago and joined our family's business.  Seb was a great person to deal with, always packaging the prints with care and getting them to us on time.  In later years I would always get a phone call letting me know when he and Marcia (of Page Blackie Gallery) were heading off on their winter holiday so I could make sure we had enough of the ever popular Thorndon "Cook's Map of NZ" on hand until their return.  Oh how envious I was as we headed into another Christchurch winter!
Map of NZ and the Pacific by Zatta based on Cook's charts

Our gallery has now purchased the remaining stock of fine art prints, maps and charts published by Thorndon Fine Prints.  Alongside all the titles we have promoted previously (like this map of the Pacific by Zatta) there are some additional prints that we now have for sale for the first time - in a couple of cases these are duplicates of images published previously by Avon Fine Prints such as the Cassini map based on Captain Cook's charts that we hadn't seen the need to double up on previously - but there are also some really well priced smaller prints from Buller's "Birds of NZ" and a couple of fine NZ botanical prints such as this print of Pohutukawa (historically interesting as it has an earlier spelling of Pohutukawa and is titled Metrosideros Tomentosa rather than the modern nomenclature of Metrosideros Excelsa) by 19th century NZ botancial artist Sarah Featon.

The story of Thorndon Fine Prints was detailed in some of the brochures that we received with the prints and worth recounting to make sure Seb Page's contribution to art print publishing in NZ is long remembered.

"In 1990, inspired by an awakening of interest in historical New Zealand, and particularly in the era of exploration and discovery, Thorndon Fine Prints issued two fine replicas of the most collectable of antique New Zealand maps, Cook's Chart of New Zealand, originally published in 1772, and the map of colonial settlement published in 1845.  Subsequently the range has been extended to include the most popular maps and prints relating to New Zealand and Pacific history, including some of the most decorative images of discovery, settlement and natural history, by the acclaimed artists of the time.  All reproductions are printed on the finest quality papers and presented with well-researched documentation."

Evelyn Page Prints from Thorndon Fine Prints

Seb Page was the son of artist Evelyn Page.  One of NZ's most celebrated artists Evelyn Page's
Evelyn Page on the
cover of "Art New Zealand"
vibrant paintings of nudes and still-life are among the most memorable images in New Zealand art of the twentieth century.  Thorndon Fine Prints began their publishing relationship with the Evelyn Page Estate in 2002 with their limited edition print release "Why Go To the Riveria? - Oriental Bay, Wellington".  The unprecedented success of this inaugural publication led to the inclusion of two more images by Evelyn Page in the Thorndon Fine Prints portfolio the following year.   Exclusive to Thorndon Fine Prints they were reproduced on the finest quality paper using UV resistant inks.

We are delighted to stock the three prints exclusively available from Thorndon alongside the Christchurch Art Gallery published print of Summer Morn (their edition of the every popular "Pohutukawa Rina" is unfortunately currently out of print while the gallery is closed).