Tuesday, 7 December 2010

NZ Art Print News: 2010 Year in Review

In one of our last articles for 2010 we look back at the big events of 2010 as covered in NZ Art Print News.

For NZ Fine Prints staff the biggest story of 2010 was the Christchurch Earthquake - all the articles covering this event and its affect on New Zealand's largest art print and poster store are covered here.

We can now look back and review the most important stories as judged by our readers and answer our annual question "What have been the most popular articles in NZ Art Print news in 2010?"

The top three articles by number of readers were our two longer essays on kiwiana in NZ art and New Zealand vintage posters written by NZ Prints' catalogue manager followed by our article on the use of the iconic "Four Square Man" in the artwork of Dick Frizzell posted when Frizzell released his Great NZ Songbook prints. 

By far and away our most discussed post (rated by the number of comments) in 2010 was the piece we wrote to launch the controversial Weston Frizzell Auckland Supercity poster and despite a less vigorous discussion our exclusive story of the eBay Colin McCahon painting has ended the year with a cliff-hanger after someone signing themselves as the original art dealer has just posted a claim that the artwork bought for just $US4500  might not be a genuine McCahon "Bellini" series painting after all!

Our most read and commented article of all time is still the piece we wrote way back in May 2009 on the debate surrounding the reproduction of Maori portrait paintings by NZ artists like C.F. Goldie. This continues to attract opinions both for and against over 18 months after the original piece was written!

We are now in the midst of our very busiest time of the year (all those gifts being bought for Xmas) - it will then be a short break until we are back to begin the release of many new and exciting prints from New Zealand's favourite artists in 2011.  Merry Xmas from all of us at NZ Fine Prints.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

JK's Bike - Kiwiana artist Jason Kelly's Signature Explained

JK Bike Signature
Recently we asked the creator of some of the most popular new prints in the kiwiana art collection at New Zealand Fine Prints about his unusual signature. For Jason Kelly signs his humorous and quirky kiwiana style artworks not with his name but with one of two symbols. As the magnified pictures of his "signature" that accompany this article show JK's signature comprises a symbol that is his initials combined with a bicycle.

So before finding out why this artist used a symbol instead of a signature we first had to find out why a bicycle was so important to JK...

Jason wrote to NZ Art Print News:

"Re: My Bike. I have always ridden a bike from a nippa and had a bit of a love affair with them, always rode to school, first kid to wear a helmet back in the early eighties, it was some Italian hard shelled thing which looked like a cross between a peanut and a German helmet, I was severley grilled by my peers at school, them calling me peanut! Didn't bother me too much though. The love of bikes continued into Triathlon and now days having a small collection of oldies and a love of doing them up including English bikes, such as a BSA & Triumph"

Jason Kelly's "Flaming Bike" logo
We then asked Jason when he first started using the symbol/logo. He told us "The JK Bike is like a brand I suppose, it was modeled on an old Bicycle advertisement, I was never that happy signing my work as it didn't quite do it for me asthetically, so the Bike was born and I now stamp all my Art with it ( Art only) [Jason also works as a professional signwriter]. I always sign my work on the back along with the date and replaced the indelible ink stamp with the signature early on round 2000, there are some early works floating round though that missed the stamp.

The images are my artwork stamp and the "It's Hot" Bike, a bit of a piss take really, but I love flames, must be a bogan in me somewhere!"

We are delighted to report that Jason has just had the JK bike tattooed on his right painting arm four times going from my wrist small to my bicep large with the "It's Hot Flames" style logo coming out of the back wheel. Jason tells us that this was to show his "dedication to the love of what I do, my brand and my love of bikes."

Friday, 19 November 2010

Talk by Christchurch Art Critic Dennis Dutton

This is a superbly illustrated lecture from Christchurch art theorist Dennis Dutton, author of "The Art Instinct" in collaboration with animator Andrew Par.  In this talk Dutton discusses the role of beauty in art from a Darwinian perspective.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

NZ Gift wholesaler Image Vault announces retail expansion plan

Widespread rumours that Christchurch publisher of NZ art gifts and decor products Image Vault are going to launch their own online store to sell directly to retail customers have been confirmed today by production manager Hamish Bayly.  In an email sent to New Zealand Fine Prints Bayly stated "all our products will be available for sale on line". He went on to say that "it will offer an on line option for people who wish to view and purchase from our complete range".

Image Vault, publisher of prints by some of NZ's top selling contemporary landscape painters like Diana Adams, Grahame Sydney and kiwiana art specialist Jason Kelly, has grown quickly to be one of the leading brands in the NZ gift market.   Launched by siblings Nathan and Jane Secker out of their Christchurch based family business Windsor Gallery (now sold) Image Vault sells a highly successful range of art cards, prints, canvas prints as well as decals and lampshades through a large network of retail stockists throughout New Zealand (including www.prints.co.nz).

This is a controversial departure from the business model followed by overseas art publishers such as Bruce McGaw or Rosensteils - or local design driven success stories like Icebreaker - who specialise in the publishing/manufacturing side and rely on a carefully cultivated network of retailers to get their products out to customers.  Do readers of NZ Art Print News think Image Vault competing directly with their loyal retail sales channel is good business or a bad idea? Leave your comment below.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Xmas Gifts - NZ Post Delivery Dates

It is the time of year that we get many print buyers asking us about the mailing date cut-offs for prints being sent as gifts to addresses outside of NZ by Airmail.  Each year we keep our shipping page updated with the latest information coming up to Xmas (although Airmail may not longer guarantee delivery after certain dates we have other options like international courier).  Official mailing dates from NZ Post are as follows:

  • International Airmail outside of Australia and the Pacific 30 November
  • International Airmail to Australia and the Pacific 6 December
In practice because most people send their gifts within the guidelines set by NZ Post we find that gifts shipped a few days after these official dates are still delivered by Xmas day due to lower volumes of mail. 

NZ Delivery: This year Xmas gift delivery throughout New Zealand for our standard shipping charge is guaranteed for all orders being shipped right up to the 21st of December - and we can deliver by courier after this date as well.  NZ Prints also deliver gift vouchers by mail right up until nearly Xmas eve - and email gift vouchers are still being bought on Xmas day itself.  If you have any questions about Xmas delivery please call us on 0800 800 278.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Latest Tony Ogle Prints

Tony Ogle has released a new print, a large work of art called "Indicators - Raglan".  This is one of Ogle's surfing series of prints - the surf break at Raglan is world famous and is the first point of three, hence for surfers down the line looking up at the first point they can see the 'Indication" of larger waves coming which gave this print its name - 'Indicators". 


We asked Tony if his latest print (pictured above) was a conscious departure from his previous art.  He told us that "yes it is somewhat of a departure in style although I have been painting in a similar way using a very textured surface (hessian/jute) and painting highlights out of a black background to complete the work. So this print borrows from that technique - the subject was worked up larger in white on black painted jute to emphasize the texture and gritty feel which pertains to the wild beauty of the West Coast."  We then asked Ogle about the brooding, darker style of "Indicators - Raglan" and how he acheived this effect. Tony told us "When the black on white image was completed I had filmwork done and then proceeded to underlay the colour resulting in the finished print work. I have consciously  tried to capture the moody brooding aspect of the West Coast."

As an aside - Tony has also reviewed the prices for buyers of his prints back in early October.  Because of this we are going to be updating all the prices for Tony Ogle's prints, at the moment all of Tony's artworks are still for sale at the old price.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Xmas Gift trends at NZ Fine Prints

Gift Voucher from NZ Fine Prints
Pre-Xmas gift buying is about to start (from the beginning of November) and NZ Fine Prints enters the busiest time of our year. This continues right up until Xmas day now with the last email gift vouchers (see illustration of one of our popular gift vouchers for New Zealand art at left) being purchased on Christmas day itself!  We even get customers buying Christmas gift vouchers after Xmas here in New Zealand (but delivered on time for Xmas via email due to the time difference between NZ and the rest of the world).  It is an exciting time and after 40 years of Xmas's we know how to ensure that all NZ gifts are delivered in perfect condition with on time delivery throughout NZ and overseas.  Art prints ordered as gifts from NZ Fine Prints are always gift-wrapped free of charge and we also enclose your personal or corporate note as well.  In addition to gift orders placed at www.prints.co.nz our phone rings every few minutes for two whole months with Xmas gift orders (unlike most other online NZ stores we welcome enquiries and orders by phone - call us free on 0800 800 ART).

(As a complete aside the contraction of Christmas to "Xmas" as an informal term for Christmas has the following origin - X represents the intial chi of Greek Khristos "Christ" - a tiny Christmas factoid to toss into conversation around the Christmas lunch table).

NZ Gift buying trends for Xmas 2010
Kiwiana Art by Jason Kelly
Kiwiana gifts are going to be very popular New Zealand gifts this Xmas.  Kiwiana art has gone mainstream and absorbed into what used to be distinct "fine art", no longer exclusively kitsch icons of daily life but an artistic celebration of what it means to be a New Zealander.  The perfect inexpensive gift for NZers living overseas is the kiwiana art of Jason Kelly (see JK's print "Tiki Tour" at left) or Matt Guild. Charming, whimsical and decorative work from two painters proud to call themselves "Kiwiana Artists".

Vintage NZ poster art is another big NZ gift trend this Xmas.  Based on classic images from early 20th century NZ designers working for the Government Tourism and Publicity Department or NZ Railways Publicity Department vintage posters work together so well on the wall.  A collection of different images offer differing designs and subjects (such as fly fishing or ski-ing) but provide a consistent vintage New Zealand design theme throughout your home or office.  Retro: We are also seeing the start of a new trend for retro art as well - this nostalgia for the more recent past (1970s and 80s art) will be a big theme for 2011.

We are always delighted to discuss your Xmas gift requirements - whether you need a corporate gift for 200 clients or the perfect antique NZ map for your brother-in-law please call us on 0800 800 ART or contact NZ's art print specialists online at www.prints.co.nz

Friday, 15 October 2010

Auckland Printmaker Brad Novak Edition Sellout

Brad Novak with his print Tiki with Danaus Plexippus Wings 1.1
Auckland printmaker Brad Novak's print Tiki with Danaus Plexippus Wings 1.1 was the first edition by this talented NZ printmaker - and now it is the first print edition by Novak to sell out. Just two prints from the edition are available nationwide this morning, one of which is in stock at New Zealand Fine Prints

Brad's first art print, this image of a Tiki with Monarch Butterfly wings was completed at Artrite Studios in 2008 (see picture of Brad celebrating the completion of the print at right). The artist says "screenprinting is a great process - took me a while to get my head around it but Tony Ogle and Michael Smither were kind enough to have me learn from them for a few days and that helped a lot!" At the time of the prints release Brad told us that "This image [Tiki with Danaus Plexippus Wings 1.1] has been one I have envisioned in my mind’s eye for a while and I am very pleased with the final results. Inspiration came from my own education as an adult about the history of Aotearoa/New Zealand before and after European settlement. I chose to name the Monarch Butterfly, introduced to NZ in the late 19th century, by its scientific name (Danaus Plexippus). This is a nod to my own background (and ongoing work in medicine/science) and a tribute to the often overlooked or misrepresented facts regarding Maori history (and indeed the history of all NZ). This butterfly and Tiki motif represents the growth in my own personal knowledge about Maori culture (and the opening of my own eyes to the many truths that history portrays) and the determination of Maori to continue sustaining and cultivating their culture and language in Aotearoa/NZ in the face of colonisation. And finally – I really thought it would make a cool image!”

In May Novak completed his latest print "Reservoir Dogs of NZ" - an idea that came to him while on holiday in the UK. Brad says he is really happy with the final artwork for Reservoir Dogs of NZ - he "tried lots of different birds before settling on the combination I did" - deciding on the Tui, Kiwi, Whio, Huia, Shag and Albatross in a print that also references the Waiting for Buller series of paintings by Christchurch painter Bill Hammond.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Jason Kelly & Image Vault release Christchurch Earthquake Canvas Print

Jason Kelly: Credit Kirk Hargreaves/ The Press
Jason Kelly and art print publisher Image Vault have combined to commemorate the recent Christchurch earthquake with a new print on canvas called SevenPointOne.  In the announcement of this special new print today the artist writes "The date of September 4th 2010 will long remain in the collective memory of Cantabrians. In spite of all the fear, trauma and destruction the earthquake caused, Christchurch as a city pulled together, and comforted and supported those most severely affected. For most of us, as the quakes diminish, we survey the cracks and and start to move on with our lives. However, many residents are still badly affected, requiring both psychological and financial support as they try to pick up the pieces torn so suddenly and violently asunder."

In response to the devastation Jason Kelly - who is one of Image Vault’s best-selling artists - has generously donated a painting which will be auctioned with all the proceeds going to the Christchurch's Mayoral Relief Fund (see picture of Jason Kelly and his earthquake painting "SevenPointOne" above). According to Image Vault's press release today "With his ever quirky take Jason has created an artwork which commemorates September 4th and salutes the spirit of our community." For the painting's "canvas" Kelly recycled a piece of New Zealand beech that was part of a door damaged in a central city building during the September quake.

Image Vault is simultaneously releasing prints of the painting on canvas in three sizes with 20% of all proceeds going to the Mayoral Earthquake relief fund.  Kelly has asked that his entire royalty be donated, and Image Vault is matching his contribution.

The painting's poem reads

Christchurch's Way:
There came a day
The earth did say
I've had enough
of this fault's fray
So up it lift
A Christchurch rift
A Seven Point One
Of rattle and tip
Still here we are
Too strong to split.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

2000 New Zealand art prints milestone reached

NZ Retro Poster - The Coral Route
Sometime in the last few weeks NZ Fine Prints passed our target of having over 2000 different prints by NZ artists, painters and print-makers in stock by Xmas 2010.  Being somewhat distracted by the September 4 Christchurch earthquake this milestone actually passed unnoticed until a visitor to our office asked our gallery manager exactly how many different NZ art prints we had! 

Unfortunately we now can't establish exactly which print was the actual 2000th print because every day we are also subtracting prints and posters from our stock as editions sell out which makes this hard to calculate. 

However our best guess is that it was probably one of the cool new Contour Creative Studio retro posters (see their poster celebrating the fabled flying boat "Coral Route" from New Zealand to the Pacific at left) - the collaborative studio of artists Rosie Louise and Terry Moyle whose unique creations combine an art deco poster design ethos with NZ history in a unique retro style.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Lost McCahon painting sells for a pittance on eBay then returns to NZ in mysterious circumstances

Rumours circulating on Facebook about a sensational auction on eBay for a lost Colin McCahon painting which sold for a mere fraction of its worth back in 2006 have been confirmed by people close to the story today - but the mystery of how the painting returned to NZ remains.

Bidding at $US199.99, 4 hours til closing...
Shown here is a screenshot from the auction on eBay "Colin McCahon Bellini II Enamel Paint on Hardboard No Reserve" with bidding at a mere $US199.99 just four hours before it closed with a winning bid of just $US 4500 - approx $NZ6500 today.  This is the deal of the decade for a NZ painting considering Colin McCahon currently holds the record sale price for a painting by a NZ artist with a top price paid of just over $1.1 million (for Let Be, Let Be in 2009).  However the excitement didn't stop when the auction closed as the vendor refused to hand over the painting to the auction winner - Auckland tribal artifact collector Andrew Pendergrast.  Pendergrast claims "someone must have offered [the broker listing the painting on behalf of the vendor] some cash to disclose the vendor's name" because despite the vendor's agent being forced to refund $1000 in currency conversion fees and Pendergrast significantly increasing his offer "no matter what I offered the vendor had uplifted the painting from the broker and there was nothing I could do to change his mind". 

Mike Weston, of Auckland pop art studio Weston Frizzell, who today admitted via email to being the unsuccessful underbidder on the auction would not say how he first heard of the auction but said he "watched for a few days and it seemed to have gone un-noticed - I couldn't sleep". Weston inadvertently got locked out of the auction at the last minute due to bidding an auto bid amount over the unregistered buyer limit - "If I'd bid only $10k [instead of $50k] I would have got it" says Weston ruefully. 

Vendor photograph of painting
The painting, shown here at right, is one of Colin McCahon's Bellini series, and almost certainly from the group of 19 paintings purchased by the American collector Edward Danziger from Auckland's Ikon Gallery in the early 1960s. According to McCahon expert Martin Browne who tracked down Edward Danzinger in the 1990s there was "definitely at least one missing Bellini Madonna painting" even after Brown's time-consuming detective work managed to reveal the whereabouts of two more Bellini Madonna paintings along with at least another half a dozen McCahon artworks that had previously been part of Danzinger's collection.  Although Browne would have to sight the painting in the flesh to confirm his view on its authenticity he says that there was a painting referred to as "The Second Bellini Madonna, 1961" shown in Contemporary New Zealand Painting at the Auckland Art Gallery in November December 1961 and "there seems a good chance that the eBay one may be it". According to Browne in all probability "someone got themselves a bargain".

Prominent New Zealand dealers and galleries approached for comment would not say if the painting had been purchased by them, one Auckland dealer summed up their collective response - if it were them "that would be confidential information" which they would not divulge.

Please leave a comment below or call the writer at New Zealand Prints if you can help solve the mystery of who was the successful purchaser and how they managed to get this long lost Colin McCahon painting back to NZ.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

New Zealand Prints - Delivery & Customer Service back to normal after Christchurch Quake

All new art print orders placed via phone or Prints.co.nz have been shipping as per normal since Friday 10th September. Thank you to our dedicated warehouse team who have worked over the weekend to catch up on the backlog of orders placed after Saturday's earthquake, the last of which were delivered to the couriers at 1pm today.   An especially big thank you to all our customers who have been so patient with the unavoidable late delivery of their prints & gifts during the past very difficult week as we worked to stabilise the damaged gallery exterior to make it safe for our warehouse staff to pack your orders.

Picture framing delayed by last week's quake is due to be completed by Wednesday and delivered to customers throughout New Zealand by Friday 17th September.

All of us at New Zealand Fine Prints would also like to thank the owners of the neighbouring properties in Hereford St - Kay Fisher of 198,  Lewis & Barrow, Joe's Garage, Miles Construction and Calendar Girls who gave us alternative safe access to our gallery via Liverpool St across their properties without question.  Also thanks to Colliers International & Canterbury Development Corporation who allowed our engineers and construction team access to their carpark to place the supports for the rear wall of the gallery.  And to Ben & the guys at Leigh's Construction who managed to place four huge supportive braces and steel beams into our building (see the photo!) without damaging a single artwork - you are amazing!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

NZ Prints - Christchurch Earthquake Update

As of Wednesday 8 September New Zealand Fine Prints is up and running from temporary offices out of the inner city.  You can contact us via our usual telephone numbers and email is also working again. Initial emergency stabilisation work on the gallery and adjacent building is due to be finally completed within hours. Huge thanks to our engineers, Anne MacKenzie of Buildgreen who was there for us when we needed it the most in the first few hours,  John Tait from Lewis Bradford and the guys at Leighs Construction. Also big thanks to our near neigbours in Hereford St Arrow International whose team dealt with the immediate dangers from the collapsing gables and put a temporary cover over the holes just after the initial quake to help keep all our thousands of prints snug and dry.

Our first post-quake shipping day is not going to be set until we are certain our staff are going to be safe in and around our gallery - especially in light of the continual aftershocks that have brought down already unstable buildings across the city today.  We are contacting all customers individually, please be patient while we arrange delivery of your orders made since Saturday's earthquake. We expect to update the revised shipping date Thursday around 3pm.  All NZ Post and CourierPost services are running again, we just have to be absolutely sure our gallery is safe for staff working to send out your order.

Monday, 6 September 2010

NZ Prints & Christchurch Earthquake

All New Zealand Fine Prints staff and their families are ok. Our gallery is in the badly affected centre city area but from the outside our gallery appears to have sustained relatively minor damage.  Our warehouse manager was able to access the building briefly on Saturday and reported that our print stock has miraculously remained on the shelves and no damage to any prints was immediately apparent.  We seem to have been very fortunate compared to many other businesses.

At present we are unable to access our gallery due to the ongoing assessment of potentially unstable buildings immediately adjacent to us.  We anticipate we will be able ship orders received since Friday 3 September on Wednesday and delivery times both within New Zealand and to overseas addresses should still be within the target range of 3-5 working days nationwide - ten days worldwide.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Unravelling NZ artists called Frizzell

Dick Frizzell
Today we are going to help our readers differentiate their Frizzells! Confusion often arises about NZ artists carrrying the Frizzell name.  For instance because we stock all three different strands of Frizzell art prints at NZ Fine Prints we get asked questions like "Is Weston Frizzell the brother of Dick or Otis?".  Which is perfectly logical but not quite right!  

Here is the explanation. Dick Frizzell (1943 -       ) - shown here standing in front of some of his recent paintings (in what we suspect is also his favourite black and white striped top) has been one of NZ's most high profile and popular contemporary artists since the 1970s.  He continues to produce paintings and prints as well as recently designing artwork for The Great NZ Songbook project and even the 2011 Rugby World Cup to be held in NZ.

Otis Frizzell
Dick's son, Otis Frizzell (1971 -      ) - shown at right,  is now also a respected artist in his own right. Otis found his feet artistically with more than 20 years experience as a graffiti artist and has recently been producing some of NZ's most exciting contemporary prints - such as his tiki series - but many of Otis' prints are produced in collaboration with Mike Weston under the moniker "Weston Frizzell".

Weston Frizzell
Weston Frizzell (shown at left is a recent publicity shot of Mike & Otis with the official Weston Frizzell rubber stamp that appears on all their studio's work) is a collaborative pop art style studio whose slick work and tight production values have resulted in some of NZ's fastest selling print editions - buyers have snapped up entire editions such as "Tututables" in record time.  Like Otis Mike Weston occasionally completes  solo art projects that are not under the Weston Frizzell studio.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Grahame Sydney on Landscape & Art

Famous NZ landscape painter Grahame Sydney (in his role as outspoken opponent to Meridian's proposed wind farm on the Lammermoor Range in central Otago) has been saying some interesting things in recent interviews that give a revealing insight into how he views his artistic relationship with the NZ (particularly Otago) landscape.  For instance in his written submission on behalf of the Maniototo Environmental Society to the Environment Court hearing back in 2008 Sydney wrote that "landscapes had a power and a meaning which was real, mysterious, andvital to many people's sense of identity.  They play a vital role, aesthetic, cultural and spiritual, in the lives of New Zealanders." Sydney also claimed that "Central Otago landscapes had a greater capacity to affect people's imagination than most others in New Zealand." This could be the matter of some debate as arguably many NZers relate at least as strongly to a painting of a pohutukawa fringed beach or a view of Mt Cook as they might to a landscape in Central Otago.

In another interview with the Dominion Post the painter is quoted as saying "What people don't get is that beauty does not have to be scenic majesty like mountains and lakes. There are many different types of beauty. Some people would look on this and just see bleak barren wasteland, but I see it as something unique and something very particular and special to Central Otago. I love it up here. I find it absolutely exhilarating."

The picture shown here is Grahame Sydney with the graffiti style defaced print of Timeless Land - a 2008 fundraiser for the "Save Central" campaign formed to fight wind-farm development in the Central Otago landscapes that he loves to paint. [Photo Credit: Diane Brown ODT].  His defaced artwork was "a way of delivering the extent to which I feel the whole energy push is an insult to landscapes - especially ones I love the most, and the feeling that we have to make better decisions than this because the change to landscapes supposedly of a temporary nature, result in permanent damage, and there are better ways".

The wind farm debate is an interesting battle between the needs of business and electricity consumers and those to whom the aesthetic appreciation of a landscape is the over-riding consideration.  It is an intriguing twist in the story that artistic or aesthetic grounds would not have been made such an important factor in the opposition to the Central Otago windfarm development before the paintings of artists like Grahame Sydney!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Painter Barry Ross Smith Quits Prints to Focus on Painting

Popular NZ painter Barry Ross Smith has announced he is no longer going to be making prints available of his artwork. After a very successful series of farming prints such as Lot 18 published in conjunction with Image Vault Barry and his wife Leanne began producing their own series of high quality archival standard giclee prints based on Barry's most popular paintings including the controversial "Queen with Moko" two years ago.

Barry says "We believed that there was a market for high quality reproductions that would last and give rich colour clarity. With my participation in a MFA [Master of Fine Arts] degree program, helping with the children and the production and proofing of new prints etc I have found it increasingly difficult to find the time to devote to my main inspiration which is the painting of original artworks." Ross Smith adds that finalising  the printing of reproductions will "allow time for me to go forward in my career and dedicate more time to the painting and production of original artworks."

Here at NZ Fine Prints we have made sure that we have excellent stocks of most of the Barry Ross Smith print series on hand - enough to last the next few months - but we will eventually sell out of these titles and they won't be re-printed once these editions have sold out.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

New Tony Ogle Print - Breakaway Bay

It's always exciting to unwrap a new print from the art studio of leading NZ printmaker Tony Ogle.  The smell of fresh ink is still strong when we take the new prints out of the carefully packed layers of tissue and this sensory treat is followed by the immediate visceral emotional response to Tony's incredibly evocative pictures of NZ coastal scenes that brings on a strangely nostalgic yearning to be out of our inner city gallery to be at one with nature at the beach.  Tony's prints could be a secret weapon to reverse the exodus of kiwis moving overseas - they should be given as gifts to lure home expatriates by the NZ government because they create such a sense of longing for Aotearoa!

Prominent New Zealand writer Graeme Lay encapsulates well the allure of the artwork of the person who is his favourite NZ artist when he writes "Tony Ogle is one of New Zealand's most talented and original landscape artists. His prints, in particular his coastal scenes, are notable for their vibrancy and captivating composition. No other New Zealand artist captures the unique allure and beauty of this country's coastal scenes so distinctively."

Tony says his new print, called simply "Breakaway Bay",  (and pictured here at right) had a very long gestation "this one started off as a pencil sketch some 10 years ago" he says, "[it's] great to get it completed".  Bearing in mind that Ogle has released this new print in New Zealand's mid-winter the artist is quick to add that this is a "vision of the coast in 6 months' time, roll on summer…"  Breakaway Bay is printed by hand, signed and then numbered the artist - this handmade edition is limited to just 200 prints.

NB: On the same day we have listed this new Tony Ogle print we are a wee bit sad to have co-incidentally found a buyer for the last print in the edition of "Crimson Ridge - Te Henga" this morning.  This was a beautiful example of print-making that really captured the essence of Auckland's West Coast which was one of our favourites.

Friday, 23 July 2010

First New Zealand Print?

Recently we came across an Art New Zealand article by R.P. Hargreaves that challenged the place of surveyor Robert Park's "Village of Richmond" as being the first print to be lithographed in New Zealand.  The assertion that "Village of Richmond" was the first NZ print was originally promulgated in the groundbreaking 1978 work "Early Prints of New Zealand" by E.M. and D.G. Ellis. In the article Hargreaves mounts a convincing case for William Mein Smith's "Lambton Harbour & Mount Victoria from the Tinakore" being the first NZ print instead.

We spoke to the authors of "Early Prints of New Zealand" about this discovery.  They said that they were excited to learn about Hagreave's research as the N.Z. Gazette and Wellington Spectator (used as a source by Hargreaves) was not available to them when they were researching the book in the mid-1970s.  They were reluctant to say however that this would be the last word on the issue of the first New Zealand lithograph printed in New Zealand because earlier lithographs could still possibly come to light - or prints could have been made in NZ pre-dating Mein Smith's Wellington view and simply lost to posterity some time over the last 170 years.

Shown here is the print "Lambton Harbour and Mount Victoria from the Tinakore [sic]" - this image is from the Hocken Library collection where the only known copy of this print resides.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Vintage New Zealand Posters from NZ Prints feature in new Flybuys TV Ads

Some of New Zealand Fine Prints' NZ vintage posters feature in the new Flybuys loyalty program television commercials.  All spots in the series start the same way - with an Oliver Twist character asking for more in an historically decorated New Zealand classroom dating from the early or perhaps mid-20th century.  On the walls are our prints of vintage travel and tourism posters featuring New Zealand destinations including Mount Egmont and Mount Cook.  [Screenshot shown here - we've favourited the full ad at NZ Prints Youtube channel if you want to check it out in its entirety].

NZ Prints regularly supply prints for NZ television production companies producing drama, comedy and current affairs as well as commercials (prints from our gallery have appeared most recently in episodes of Mercy Peak - a fine selection of pre-Raphaelite art, Outrageous Fortune and our print of Dick Frizzell's Mickey to Tiki was used to illustrate an item on copyright on Fair Go). Art is an important part of set design - the process that places actors in an historical time or contemporary setting with an appropriate backdrop.  We were particularly delighted to supply a house-worth of prints from an appropriate historical period for "The Lovely Bones" filmed in Wellington by Peter Jackson.  Because we have supplied prints to film and television for decades (we even had prints behind the reception desk back in the very early days of Shortland St) if you are a producer or set designer looking for images to use we are well versed in the copyright procedure to be followed for their use.  

Monday, 5 July 2010

Jason Kelly's Kiwiana art print series

We have just catalogued for sale the entire first series of art prints from contemporary kiwiana artist Jason Kelly. Trained as a sign-writer Kelly combines kiwiana icons such as jandals, Tip Top icecream and chocolate fish with humourous slogans showcasing the quirks of New Zealand culture. Kelly references the shared culture that kiwis recognise as being part of their collective identity and we are fairly certain this series will be popular as kiwiana gifts delivered to homesick NZers living overseas this Xmas.

Combining images with a message means, Kelly says, that commercial art often has to be more ingenious than fine art because the artist has to find a way of making the two parts of the artwork work together effectively and harmoniously.  The original paintings are on recycled wood done by hand using only paint brushes and mahl stick without the use of any stencils. The high quality prints using extremely lightfast inks capture this handmade retro feel with the details of the original picture's surface captured in superb detail.

Shown here is one of our favourite prints from Kelly's new series of kiwiana images - Sunday Drive.  This is Kelly's celebration of the great kiwi pastime of spending Sunday driving the family on a sightseeing journey by car with no particular destination in mind (perhaps visiting the rellies [relatives] along the way).  His complete range of new art prints is in the Jason Kelly collection and all of his contemporary kiwiana style artwork features in NZ Prints' ever expanding gallery of kiwiana art.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Picture Framing: A Short History of Framed Pictures

There is now a steady stream of framed pictures leaving our Christchurch gallery, the most popular being Mickey to Tiki in the black box frame (the example shown here at right is hanging on the wall of our gallery today). Since NZ Fine Prints started offering picture framing on all prints in stock we have already delivered ready framed just over 10% of the print titles that we carry. This means that we are getting a better idea of the cost of framing each print, which are the most popular prints (so we can make sure we keep these on hand) and also which colour frames are the most popular (the favourite frame colour is black because this goes with nearly all interior designs).  Picture framing outside of the pictures listed as being in stock in our framed prints collection is done to order.  Finding out more about your framing options and the cost of framing your prints is easy - just call us on NZ freecall 0800 800 ART.

Seeing all this picture framing going on has made us curious to know more about out the origins of the practice of framing pictures.  Back a couple of decades NZ Fine Prints was part owner of one of NZ's largest picture moulding manufacturers so we have been able to delve into our own company archives to literally dust off some books on the aesthetics and mechanics of picture framing in our quest to find out more about the history of framed prints (and along the way have seen a lot of changing picture framing fashions as well!).

The history of framed pictures went back a lot further than we expected. The fashion of having moveable art pictures in our homes and offices is not new, it goes back many generations. The story of the use of domestic (or vernacular) pictures has its orgins just over three hundred years ago when just over a third of "tradesmen" (i.e. semi-skilled workers) in Britain already had pictures on their walls (our source for many of these fascinating statistics is Lorna Weatherill, Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in Britain 1660-1760).

Before the Renaissance the movable panel-painting was the exception and the painter's craft ranged over a wide variety of surfaces integrating the work full with its public and the buildings in which these skills were employed. Over door and over mantel pictures were about the last examples of pictorial art to be united inseparably with their architectural setting.

The dominance of moveable pictures, (ie "easel painting") must be seen as a product of the Renaissance for by the late seventeenth century moveable pictures, paintings and prints were to be found in many interiors. The popularity of maps, usually shown hanging between rollers, can be seen as heralding the decline of limning (the use of solid gouache) and the rise of translucent watercolour which would not obliterate the printed line. The burgeoning use of moveable pictures of all kinds is particularly evident between about 1675 and 1725. In that half century some 35 percent of tradesmen owned pictures although only 4 percent of yeoman farmers did. This could point to an urban/rural divide contingent upon the cash economies of towns in contrast to the persistent barter in the country.These earliest picture frames were usually made by the artist - picture framing as a separate profession did not yet exist.

Early picture frames followed architectural practice and included a cill, as in a window, with the familiar mason's mitre. The general introduction to easel paintings by the early seventeenth century promoted the development of the picture frame as an object, not simply removed from architecture, but intended to isolate a picture from its surroundings.   The style of frame reflected the fashion of furniture at the time (see for instance the Baroque style antique picture frame pictured on the left) - this parallel between interior design and picture framing style is still strong today - many of the most popular contemporary framing styles in NZ  have strong, clean lines that reflect the trend for minimalism in our domestic and commercial interiors. This is an interesting area of uncovered ground for a New Zealand design student's thesis!

We are now enjoying researching how picture framing in New Zealand developed and will post our findings in the next article in what will be an occasional picture framing series.  We have already found that many of NZ's early artists made their own frames - a well-known example being C.F. Goldie whose distinctive style of a wide black oval wooden frame is still copied today when a print of one of his paintings is being framed. 

Monday, 21 June 2010

NZ Prints Video - New Zealand's Top Selling Art Prints in 2009

We have just created a short (1 minute) video celebrating NZ's top selling art prints by New Zealand artists in 2009.  Showcases the artwork of NZ painters and printmakers like Dick Frizzell, Ralph Hotere, Rita Angus, Bill Hammond, Grahame Sydney, Diana Adams and C.F Goldie.  Find out what was New Zealand's most popular print in 2009!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Vintage NZ Poster Art in a historical context

A recent article on vintage posters in the English newspaper The Daily Telegraph by renowned antiques expert Judith Miller (author of the eponymous Millers antiques guides) has been avidly read around NZ Fine Prints this week because over the last few months we have been doing a lot of work researching and if necessary re-printing retro or vintage style New Zealand travel and tourism posters.  As the popularity of vintage poster art increases in NZ we have had to respond to our customers requests to buy vintage travel and tourism posters with New Zealand subjects and themes as well as the traditionally popular French and American poster designers meant by doing a LOT of research in order to curate what is now NZ's most comprehensive collection of vintage posters.  Although she is writing about collecting original vintage posters Miller has a lot to say about what she calls the three great waves of popularity of vintage poster art - comments that are just as pertinent to those of us who enjoy the vintage poster as artful decoration rather than as investors in the field of collecting vintage poster art.

In New Zealand the catalyst for much of the current interest in collecting and decorating with NZ vintage posters would have to be attributed to the publication of Wellington based lecturer in graphic design Hamish Thompson's book "Paste Up: A Century of New Zealand Poster Art" in 2003 which was the first comprehensive study of the New Zealand poster.  However this book's publication may also have been symptomatic of a global revival of interest in collecting the work of poster designers as Miller writes that "In the world of antiques, a particular area of interest — a collecting field if you like — will often tick over quietly for a couple of decades or more and then take off, gradually expanding its appeal beyond hard-core aficionados to draw many more new and enthusiastic collectors. This has certainly been the case with vintage posters for the past three years, but it isn’t the first time. Indeed, we are in what might be described as Poster Art’s third great wave of popularity"

She goes on to write a useful outline of the evolution of poster art from the late 19th Century to the present day that enables us to place much of the popular early to mid twentieth century New Zealand poster art in some kind of historical and/or international context. Miller says "The first wave began with the emergence of the art form itself when, in the late 19th century, French artist Jules Chèret harnessed the technique of lithographic colour printing. This allowed him to reproduce posters at speed, and displaying chromatic intensities and subtleties comparable to the original artwork. By the early 1890s, the walls of Paris were covered in commercial posters promoting theatres, revues and café-bars, while the involvement of eminent artists such as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Alphonse Mucha firmly established at the outset the poster’s status as a collectable art form in its own right, and one relatively affordable compared to the contemporary fine art in the Art Nouveau style that it mirrored. As their commercial potential became increasingly obvious to a rapidly expanding advertising industry, posters promoting domestic consumables — from soap and biscuits to cigarettes and alcohol — were produced in ever-increasing quantities as the 20th century unfolded."

It wasn't until this early twentieth century period that New Zealand poster designers weave themselves into the global story of poster art's evolution. As Miller writes "growth in leisure time witnessed poster promotions for sports such as golf, skiing and motor racing, while the accompanying expansion of tourism gave rise to posters for holiday destinations and the various methods of getting there: from bicycles, motorbikes and cars to trains, cruise liners and aeroplanes." This development was central to the New Zealand practice of poster advertising. Travel destinations such as Rotorua and Queenstown and activities such as fly-fishing, ski-ing or attending a health spa were promoted in posters designed at the NZ Government's quaintly named Department of Tourist and Health Resorts or the publicity studios of the NZ Railways.

Post second world war what Miller calls the first wave or "golden age of poster production and collecting" ended as posters were increasingly relegated to a supporting role for glossy magazines and, later, television advertising. However she writes that this all "changed in the late '60s with a second wave of popularity driven largely by the music industry and psychedelia … which drew heavily on Poster Art’s original stylistic inspiration, Art Nouveau, and also revived the role of the poster in home décor. The quiet period that ensued from the late Seventies was loudly superseded in 2005 when an original poster for Fritz Lang’s iconic 1927 film Metropolis sold at auction in the United States for a staggering $690,000 (£425,000)." Prices for original NZ posters have also rocketed in recent years, many posters are particularly rare because they were designed for consumption outside of New Zealand so very few remained in this country post publication.

Miller ends her article with a pithy summary of what to look for in a vintage poster - she is writing about buying the original printings of these posters for an investment but some of these guidelines would also apply to customers selecting re-printed NZ vintage posters that are available through New Zealand Fine Prints being purchased for retro or vintage style decoration.  Her guidelines include "look for boldness and clarity of design, crispness of printing, and strength or saturation of colour", "avoid trimmed margins, staining, creases and tears" and "always have mounting, framing and repairs done by a professional".

We are continuing to add new posters to our vintage collection - concentrating at the moment on vintage New Zealand travel and tourism posters.  If you have a particular favourite that is not yet shown please email us or give us a call - we'd love to hear about good retro or vintage images that are not yet in print so we can add these to our vintage posters collection in due course.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Robyn Kahukiwa - print by NZ's leading Maori artist released today

Today Robyn Kahukiwa is continuing her sought after series of large scale prints in small editions with the latest release, Kahukura.   Robyn says about this new print (shown here below, right) that "this 10 colour screenprint printed on Fabriano Artistico [watercolour paper that is double-sized 100% cotton and acid-free ] is part of a Native NZ series I have been painting for the last few years. Kahukura is the Maori name of the red admiral butterfly, and the Maori woman is shown with a kauwae or facial tattoo". There are only 30 prints in this edition which is being released today.

Kahukiwa is a contemporary Maori artist of Ngati Porou, Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Ngati Hau, Ngati Konohi and Whanau-a-Ruataupare descent. The background notes for a recent exhibtion at Dunedin's Hocken Library describe her beginning painting in 1967 as a young housebound mother in Greymouth. Kahukiwa's early influences included Paul Gauguin, Colin McCahon, and later, Frida Kahlo, but her individual style developed entirely without formal training.  Much of her artwork is familiar to most New Zealanders from posters and books as well as her paintings in major art gallery collections throughout NZ. Kahukiwa wrote and illustrated children's books such as Taniwha (1986), Paikea (1993), The Koroua and the Mauri Stone (1994) and Kehua (1996). In collaboration with writer Patricia Grace, she produced The Kuia and the Spider (1981) Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street (1981), and Wahine Toa: Women in Maori Myth (1984). The curator of the Hocken exhibition wrote that "The importance of Maori knowing their whakapapa (ancestral lineage) is a dominant thread in Kahukiwa's work. She seeks to overlay the sense of disenfranchisement and flagging self-esteem felt by many Maori, with messages and symbols of hope, strength, and celebration." Her publisher, Reed Books, says that Robyn Kahukiwa has been painting and exhibiting art that celebrates contemporary socio-cultural issues that are "central to the Maori experience in Aotearoa New Zealand today but equally relevant to all indigenous peoples of the world; ranging over issues such as colonialism and the dispossession of indigenous people, motherhood and bloodties, social custom, mythology and political activism. "

Current head of Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, past Museum of New Zealand's Director of Art and Visual Culture and honoury Kaitiaki Maori (Curator of Maori Art at the Christchurch Art Gallery) Jonathan Mane-Wheoki has written of Robyn Kahukiwa that "No contemporary Maori woman artist is better known than Robyn Kahukiwa. Her images fit simultaneously into four different cultural contexts, those of Maori women's art, contemporary Maori art, contemporary New Zealand art and international indigenous art."

It's not just New Zealand art critics who laud the work of Robyn Kahukiwa. Leading British art critic and prolific writer Edward Lucie-Smith has published more than a hundred books in all, including more than sixty books about art, chiefly but not exclusively about contemporary work. He is generally regarded as the most prolific and the most widely published writer on art with sales for some titles totaling over 250,000 copies. A number of his art books, among them Movements in Art since 1945 , Visual Arts of the 20th Century, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Art Today are used as standard texts throughout the world. He has written extensively about Kahukiwa's work and sees both Gauguin and Deigo Rivera as key figures in the context of Robyn Kahukiwa's work.  Like Rivera he sees Kahukiwa walking a tightrope stretched "between the desire to produce something that not only seemed indigenous but actually was so – in other words something true to a fundamental notion of [Maori-ness] – but also something comprehensible within the conventions of post-Renaissance European art." Lucie-Smith writes "when one looks at the evolution of her work one sees not only a restless exploration of new media and new ways of making art, but a determination both to make emphatically public works, which speak not only for herself but for the whole Maori community, as well as others designed primarily for private contemplation, Kahukiwa is one of a small but highly original and influential group of women painters of Maori descent who have greatly extended the range of recent New Zealand art, they have been able to speak to both communities – Maori and Pakeha."

Robyn has already had the honour of two nationwide touring solo exhibitions of her work, Wahine Toa (1983) and Mauri Ora (2002).

We are delighted to stock both Robyn's smaller, more affordable, series of limited edition screenprints on handmade paper and all three of her larger scale prints that are currently available in the Robyn Kahukiwa collection and all of Kahukiwa's prints are featured in our Maori art gallery.  Please note however that there is only one print of Tino Rangatiratanga Tiki left in the edition - please order promptly to avoid disappointment.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Kiwiana Art - Iconic Kiwi Pictures & Prints

Kiwiana Icons
Kiwiana in the New Zealand art world now refers to more than just appropriated or recycled images of mid twentieth century kitsch kiwi icons like plastic Watties tomato sauce bottles and buzzy bees.

The term kiwiana (note loss of capitalisation) seems to be gaining a looser and consequently more broad meaning in everyday usage, at least in our part of the New Zealand art industry. We first noticed this when picture framers and gallery owners would ask us if we had any new kiwiana images - and they were meaning prints by contemporary NZ painters like Grahame Sydney rather than art prints of iconic Kiwiana (for example a picture of a pavlova topped with kiwifruit). Our picture framers and gallery owners were using kiwiana as an instinctive shorthand to easily describe and convey that they wanted "not imported" art. In particular kiwiana was being used to describe typically NZ pakeha art rather than indigenous New Zealand Maori art and design like Kowhaiwhai.

Kiwiana PictureA Kiwiana definition for non-New Zealanders reading NZ Art Print News: Kiwi are the flightless bird that is one of New Zealand's national emblems and also the nickname that most New Zealanders would be comfortable using to refer to their own nationality alongside the more formal "New Zealander" when speaking to others. The "ana" suffix is commonly affixed to words to show that the items in question are representative of or a collection of items or representative/associated with the term - the first usage of the word Kiwiana is not known but its initial coinage must have a derivation owing at least in part to a very similar word used describe domestically designed and created art from the United States "Americana". 

After much discussion (!) a couple of months ago we somewhat reluctantly began the process of putting together a Kiwiana icons/ Kiwiana art collection at New Zealand Art Prints. The impetus came from customers who were asking for Kiwiana gifts - usually looking for presents for friends and family living outside of New Zealand but we had resisted creating a separate gallery for a long time because the term Kiwiana always grated slightly with us and we didn't use the term ourselves. We definitely felt uncomfortable about all contemporary NZ art being called "Kiwiana" and likewise believed that consigning an artists' images to a gallery of iconic Kiwiana would be seen as damning their artwork with very faint praise - as in "It's not much good artistically but ok as a slice of Kiwiana"! However as we have delved into the Kiwiana idea with increasing enthusiasm we think we have managed to curate a fairly comprehensive collection of Kiwiana art culled from our existing range of prints with the addition of new distinctly Kiwiana images from NZ contemporary artists like Jason Kelly (whose work "Tiki Tour" is shown here alongside the Paua, Koru and Pohutukawa Blossom artwork by Alison Gilmour to illustrate this article).  But we haven't included all NZ art prints because we don't think all recognisably NZ art qualifies as Kiwiana...

It has been an interesting process curating the Kiwiana collection because we quickly found that there are some pictures that just seem to fit in this new collection without any argument - whereas a picture of a famous geographical NZ icons such as Mt Cook or Rangitoto or even New Zealand's favourite painting of Cass by Rita Angus just don't seem to qualify as kiwiana. From this experience it seems we know "Kiwiana art" when we see it even if trying to define it in the abstract is difficult. Does a natural icon like Mt Cook/Aoraki have to be re-interpreted by an artist or be translated into a logo or brand to become Kiwiana? Or is kiwiana (this writer has to consider each time whether to capitalise the initial K or not which is perhaps indicative of the fluidity in breadth of the meaning of the word) broad enough to include any image that is collectively famous for nearly all New Zealanders but not people from other countries (eg Four Square store's Four Square Man), or Charles Goldie's Maori portrait known as a Good Joke and perhaps extending to a scene that is so widely reproduced it has become a visual cliche (Mitre Peak in Milford Sound) even if it is painted in divergent styles by different artists.

So the key question we had to resolve was: Is Kiwiana is what we think it should be (a relatively narrow category of slightly kitsch New Zealand pop art used to illustrate a flimsy but wryly humourous sense of national identity) or is Kiwiana a much broader category of nearly all non-Maori art that is made in New Zealand and is recognisable kiwi to a NZ viewer who is not familar with the nationality of the artist? We decided on the narrower definition. Depending on the popularity of this collection we will commission new (perhaps high quality photographic prints on canvas) pictures of kiwiana icons if we get sufficient demand for classic kiwiana images not already available.  We welcome your comments on this post about kiwiana generally or suggestions of art that you think should be (or not be) included in our new Kiwiana collection - please leave a comment below:

Monday, 10 May 2010

Photographer Fiona Pardington says Inkjet prints are exciting, powerful and extending her artistic practice

Fiona Pardington is at the forefront of New Zealand's current generation of fine art photographers.  Much has been written about her use of "pure" analogue darkroom techniques such as hand printing and toning so it was a revelation to hear the following excerpt from her interview with Kim Hill on National Radio's "Saturday Morning with Kim Hill Show" on Saturday.

Kim Hill asks, "A couple of technical questions, what's Hahnemule cotton rag paper?"

Fiona Pardington: "It's a beautiful, you know if I was a watercolourist or someone like [NZ Painter] John Reynolds I'd be using that."

Kim Hill: "What is it?"

Fiona Pardington: "It's this lovely rag paper, it's just a paper a big thick chunky beautiful watercolourly looking paper and it's archival and, ahhh, inkiets great. It's for me, I kind of treat it like its a kind of historical photolithography process."

Kim Hill: "And is this what you are using?"

Fiona Pardington: "Yes, I have sold my soul to the digital world. "

Kim Hill: "...and you are using inkjet on cotton rag paper?"

Fiona Pardington: "Yes, it's sexy, I am. It is beautiful."

Kim Hill: "…and would I, if I knew about these things, would I look at your photographs and say yes, they are made by inkjet prints?"

Fiona Pardington: "No, well actually a few people haven't really known how I'd done it."

Kim Hill: "So what difference does it make?"

Fiona Pardington: "So it ranges, to me its a kind of… when you can find a new material that extends your practice and takes all of the qualities that you have had with them but they are transformed through another substance in a new unique way that has your aesthetic integrity intact in that transformation - that's when you move materials and for me I'm just like a pig in mud, it's so exciting. It has allowed me to think and see differently and to experience a lot of the qualities and talents that I have in a new and more powerful way."

With one of New Zealand's leading contemporary photographers in both the academic and artistic worlds embracing the new world of digital printing  as not only preserving her artistic integrity but also being so excited with the possibilities that she is like a "pig in mud" we think that serious collectors of New Zealand photography can embrace digital editions by photographers like Craig Potton with total confidence.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Vintage Posters - New Zealand Collection Launched Today

Good quality prints of vintage posters with New Zealand subjects have not been published until relatively recently. Original examples of NZ vintage posters are now very rare (and being highly collectable they are also frightfully expensive!) because most were sent outside of New Zealand - very few posters were designed for domestic consumption.  After the vintage "Kiwi" Rolling Stones poster we uncovered last year proved popular and following the success of our test series of prints of three advertising posters originally produced by the publicity department of the New Zealand government owned Railways Department (especially Mt Cook for Winter Thrills) - over the last few months New Zealand Fine Prints have been cataloguing a brand new collection of nearly twenty classic NZ tourism and advertising posters that are now available in New Zealand as high quality digital prints for the first time.

Posters are a challenge to artists and designers as they have to combine imagery with text or typography in a harmonious, imaginative and eye-catching way. We like the posters in New Zealand Fine Prints' vintage poster collection so much because although their styles and subjects may be different to one another somehow a collection of vintage advertising posters on the wall always seem to complement each other in such a pleasing way that the overall impact of the art is enhanced beyond the individual pieces. [And this writer is writing from personal experience because he has lots of these posters on the walls at home himself!].

The new range of New Zealand designed posters that have been added to our large collection of vintage posters launched today includes all the best examples of classic advertising posters created by anonymous artists at New Zealand's tourism and publicity department to promote New Zealand's tourist attractions to overseas visitors that we could find. Shown here are a couple of highlights - "Mt Cook, New Zealand" and "Chateau Tongariro".

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Four Square Man Returns in Dick Frizzell's Great New Zealand Songbook Prints

Original artwork by Dick Frizzell was commissioned for the critically acclaimed Great New Zealand Songbook project and we are delighted to have all four of these very special limited edition Dick Frizzell prints in stock this morning.


The Great New Zealand Songbook is a 100 page hardcover journal featuring handwritten lyrics, photos and memorabilia from famous New Zealand musicians like Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga and Anika Moa.

These prints (Give it A Whirl, Rock On, Four Four Time (shown here at right) and Side A, Side B) have been nicknamed the "Charlie" series after the supposed real name of the "Four Square Man" character that appears in the artwork especially commissioned from Dick Frizzell by boutique Auckland music company Thom Music for the Great New Zealand Songbook.

Mr Four Square has been a recurring motif in Frizzell's paintings and prints and this time he uniquely re-appears with a guitar slung around his neck.

According to Icon Images, the official licensee of the vintage Mr Four Square logo and image from Four Square store's parent company Foodstuffs (Auckland) Limited Mr Four Square "is the famous smiling logo for the Four Square stores that have conveniently served the local communities and towns around New Zealand for the past 81 years.  Locals, visitors, overseas tourists and especially kids all love our very friendly Mr Four Square."  They go on to write about the origins of the Four Square name, which emerged nearly 90 years ago when "J. Heaton Barker, the founder of Foodstuffs, called together members of the Auckland Master Grocers Association to discuss the formation of a co-operative buying group of independent grocers.  The aim was to counter the activities of grocery chain stores who were making life very difficult for independent grocers.  The name Four Square emerged when Mr Barker, while talking on the phone, drew a square around the 4 of the date on his calendar.  He immediately realised he had a suitable name for the buying group, stating that "they would stand 'Four Square' to all the winds that blew"."

It was not until the 1950s that anonymous staffers in the Foodstuffs advertising department designed the now famous Four Square man (or Mr Four Square to give him his proper title) - an attribution that is often erroneously given to Dick Frizzell who had simply appropriated the Four Square store's logo in prints such as True Colours and Four Square Man.

Please place your order promptly for these handmade Frizzell limited edition prints as they are sure to sell out very speedily - in particular nearly all of the prints in the edition of Four Four Time were gifted to the musicians who participated in the Great NZ Songbook project so only a very few of these prints are actually available to print collectors outside of this very select group of New Zealanders.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Weston Frizzell Auckland Supercity logo

New Zealand's favourite contemporary pop art duo Mike Weston (pictured below, left) and Otis Frizzell (pictured below, right) are ramping up their campaign to subvert the Auckland Supercity Logo design competition today with their Weston Frizzell style Supercity logo being rolled out via a poster campaign throughout inner city Auckland in defiance of the "official" competition. 

Otis says about the Auckland Supercity Logo Competition that they "can't enter because my Dad [Dick Frizzell] is a judge, so Mike Weston and I plan to start our own campaign using our logo."  According to Mike the Weston Frizzell logo for the new Auckland council (pictured here) is "Pacific , Asian, Maori, Christian, pretty, sexy, masculine, feminine and green."

Mike warned Aucklanders to "watch the walls near you" when news of Weston Frizzell's subversion of the Auckland Super City logo competition process broke earlier this month and Otis confirmed over the weekend that "We've got 500 posters and we're gonna paste 'em up round the inner city…let's see if we can own something simply by doing it. We don't need a council to tell us what's good!" 

Will the Weston Frizzell Supercity logo "wind its way into the consciousness of the city" as judge Hamish Keith told TVNZ back in February? We think it should and we are urging all our New Zealand Art Print News readers to add their support for the Weston Frizzell Supercity Logo by joining their campaign on Facebook.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Michael Smither talks about Taranaki painting "Rocks with Mountain"

New Zealand Geographic magazine recently published an issue (number 67) focusing on the Taranaki region - and one of the most famous images of Mount Taranaki is the one with the stones and a rock pool in the foreground and a small red tractor on the horizon. This is a painting called Rocks with Mountain by Michael Smither.

I was surprised to read the rather sombre symbolism the artist saw in this painting, Smither is quoted in New Zealand Geographic "I was painting this at the time of the Czech revolution. Looking up, I saw the red tractor, the mountain, and the pool in the foreground with pink coralline on the rocks - and it struck me as being like the blood of martyrs, squeezed out and trickling down into these waters".

I'm not sure that this reading of such a well-known painting has ever been written about before - it certainly isn't an obvious interpretation of what appears today as straightforward representational painting (albeit with a radical viewpoint and interesting composition). Artist Photo Credit: Tom Turner/Art New Zealand

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Print editions about to sell out this week

Added to our endangered prints gallery today are the last four prints of a very popular view of Rangitoto, Auckland by Ingrid Banwell (shown here), the last print of Eglinton Valley by Blair Greig, last print of an Avon Fine Prints Barraud print of Lake Taupo numbered 749/750 and a very romantic print by Vettriano which is now the last copy in New Zealand due the artists dispute with his publisher.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Painter Diana Adams - her art prints inspiration

At a recent exhibition of paintings Diana Adams explored the reasons why her artwork resonates so strongly with her emotional response to the New Zealand environment.  In the promotional material for Adams' show her artistic practice was described as a having an "interest [that] lies primarily in the challenges that arise when attempting to express an emotional content in painterly form, a realm in which she excels".

A full-time painter since 2001 Adams' training critically includes a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Lincoln University - an education she claims led and inspired her to becoming a painter of New Zealand's natural environment. Adams’ background as a landscape architect has played a significant role in the shaping of her current style which is delineated by clean precise lines and a close attention to composition. Many of her prints also clearly demonstrate her understanding of the native New Zealand flora which inhabits the landscapes she paints - nikau palms, pohutukawa and cabbage trees feature as key elements in her compositions.

We agree with the sentiments of the curator of her recent exhibition when they write "Reflecting the artist's development into a painter of some maturity and complexity, the latest series of works investigate a range of emotions, including the darker aspects of the landscape and the often disquieting feelings evoked by the solitude and loneliness which may be found in the isolated landscapes that she depicts. All pieces possess atmospheric qualities which reference the prevalent weather conditions and resultant light effects over the landscape - approaching storms and moody skies signaling changeability and the presence of an overwhelming, oppressive power rendering humanity insignificant in the face of natural forces. This can be seen to move Diana’s work past a simple representation of the obvious beauty of the New Zealand landscape and on to a thematic exploration of the moods and emotions which can be experienced through interaction with the environment."

This increasing complexity can be seen in the latest additions to Diana Adams series of prints on fine art paper and canvas - prints of paintings like River's Journey and Sole Survivor.