New Zealand’s Māori Heritage in Modern Visual Art | NZ Fine Prints

How New Zealand Is Reclaiming Māori Heritage Through Visual Art

Traditional maori carving in hamiton gardens maori heritage garden

New Zealand’s indigenous Māori culture has always valued art. The patterns and designs of tangata whenua are easily identifiable when seen in Māori poster art, architecture, and carving, but few outside of NZ know about the history behind modern Māori art. Where did it begin, and what happened to it through the 20th century to bring it to where it stands today? In this blog, we’re going to explore some of these questions by tracing the basic history of Māori art from pre-colonisation, through the contemporary Māori art of the 1950s, to now. In particular, we highlight how and why Māori art changed in the 20th century.

 

What was Māori art like before Pakeha arrived?

Traditional Māori art was historically focused around practicality. What we often think of as Māori art now began as pieces that intentionally married both form and functionality. In many cases, one inspired the other. Pieces could have had many uses, but they often had a principal use or an underlying symbolism. Furthermore, Māori art was used to give physical shape to important ideas, and often, art pieces were created by a single material, whether wood, bone, or flax. The material chosen also helped inform how a piece of art would look. Before European colonisation and repression typified by legislation such as the Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907, Tohunga were deeply involved in art. While there may not be a single, analogous definition for Tohunga, they are often described today as experts in a given skill or art form. They may have been priests, carvers, linguists, or tattoo artists—a master of any of these could be considered a Tohunga. Not all art was created by Tohunga, as art was also a communal activity that groups could work on together, but art created by Tohunga was especially valued.

 

The effects of colonisation on Māori Art

The introduction of Pakeha changed Māori art dramatically, in multiple ways. There were surface-level changes, such as carving changing in response to the metal tools Pakeha brought with them, but there are also more profound changes in the culture which altered the art form. Some Māori adopted Christianity, for example, while others felt that their culture was being eroded, and the policy of Pakeha impacted Māori art directly, as in the case of the Tohunga Suppression Act. New leaders emerged, like Te Kooti, Te Whiti, and Rua Kenana. Te Kooti, in particular, inspired a religious movement called Ringatū, which combined elements of the Bible and Māori spirituality. His battle flag, Te Wepu (translated as the whip), was sewn by Catholic nuns, and became a famous piece of art. The flag was eventually captured by Gilbert Mair Jr, a colonist soldier and interpreter, who at one point led the national hunt for Te Kooti. Mair Jr then entrusted it to the Dominion Museum, but later learned it had been destroyed.

 

The emergence of ‘modern’ Māori art

In the early 1900s, Māori art began to return to more traditional forms. The establishment of the Young Māori Party, led by figures such as Sir Apirana Ngata, helped shape these opinions, and encouraged Māori to forget the teachings of prior religious leaders in favour of finding their own path to progress. While this did push Māori to reconnect with more traditional forms of art, many criticised the views of the Young Māori Party, which also called for Māori to abandon other traditions and adopt western medicine and education. Māori art began to change again in the 1950s, and this can be traced more or less to Gordon Tovey, national art supervisor for the Department of Education. He was particularly interested in fostering Māori art, and so began a small training group of Māori artists. This group included several artists who went on to become very important in New Zealand’s art history, such as Ralph Hotere. This movement began what we know think of as the contemporary, or ‘modern’ period of Māori art. 

Paratene Matchitt print "Me Whawhai Tatou Katoa Mo Te Ora"
Paratene Matchitt limited edition print

Paratene Matchitt was also part of this group. His work is known for combining Māori tradition with modernist art forms, and references much of New Zealand’s history, including the prophetic movements, especially that of Te Kooti. Matchitt’s wood sculpture ‘Te Wepu’ is a clear reference to the original flag, and it is now owned by the same institution that destroyed the original. Matchitt originally created it as a wero, or challenge, calling out the National Museum’s tendency to endorse a narrow section of Māori art.

 

Māori art today

The combination of Māori and European art continues to this day, often used to make art that interrogates its own history or makes statements about Māori in the world today. Shane Cotton, for example, has continued the use of the Ringatū motifs that Matchitt referenced in his own work. The digital landscape of the modern world is also bringing more attention to traditional forms of Māori art. As an example, a Rotorua-based carver going by the online name ‘Broxh’ has received a surge of popularity after streaming his work process live on Twitch. If you’re interested in bringing some of New Zealand’s history into your own home, take a look at the Maori art for sale in our gallery today!

NZ most collectable prints? - The Barry Lett Multiples

Barry Lett Multiples Catalogue
The catalogue for the Barry Lett Multiples (all images credit: Lesley Melody)

The Barry Lett Multiples are a set of 12 prints published in 1968. Art dealer Barry Lett produced the set with the idea of making modern art accessible to a wider audience by at a low cost. Artist, creative and clothing designer Lesley Melody is very familiar with the Barry Lett Multiples, as she explained in a recent email she is "very fortunate to own a set of the Multiples and enjoy them every day".  A few years ago Lesley took the time to transcribe the original catalogue which accompanied her prints when purchased. This catalogue describes the 12 artworks and gave biographical information on the artists - some of whom have become regarded as extremely significant NZ artists by today - that participated in this fabled series of screenprints over 50 years ago.  We are very grateful that Lesley has given us permission to re-publish material from her 2009 article, a copy of which she now has just put on her new website here.

Lesley wrote in her introduction "Art dealer Barry Lett invited 12 artists, some established and some up and coming, to contribute to the project. They were printed on paper and came stacked in a single glass fronted frame so that they could be rotated for viewing at will.

Many of the 12 who contributed have emerged as significant New Zealand artists - most notably Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters, Ralph Hotere and Milan Mrkusich [we would also add Michael Smither and Don Binney to Lesley's original list].

In 1968 the price $35 for the full set and it is unknown exactly how may copies were produced.

The exhibition catalogue is a sheet of large (A1-ish size) paper, printed in 2 colours with an explanatory piece about each artist and their print, and shows (with an orange line) the size of the main prints.

The sets usually became split as the more widely known artist prints, especially those by Colin McCahon, Gordon Walters and Ralph Hotere were more sought after. There are therefore relatively few complete sets. Iconic works like McCahon and Binney have been seen to change hands between $3,000 and $6,000 each [these prints sell for about double these amounts in 2020]."

Catalogue Transcription



Don Binney, Pacific Frigate Bird
Born in Auckland, 1940. Studied School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland 1958-61. Awarded Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council Fellowship in 1966.

In Europe and North and Central America in 1967-68. At present painting full-time.

He has held several one-man shows since 1963, including one at the Instituto Anglo-Mexicano in Mexico City, as part of the cultural programme accompanying the XIX Olympiad. His work has been included in all important exhibitions assembled here in recent years.

Finalist in the 1968 Benson and Hedges Art Award.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Christchurch, Dunedin.

Binney has used the frigate bird in several paintings recently In most of his recent paintings and drawings the placing of images is similar to the present work, his concern being to establish a vertical tension between natural forms, usually with birds, and the landscape, or, in this case, the horizon, as his major images.  [Update: There is now an offset reproduction print available of Pacific Frigate Bird.]



Gordon Walters, Tawa
Born Wellington, 1919. Studied at Wellington Technical College School of Art. The first exhibitions of his work were held in Wellington in 1945 and 1947. Traveled and studied in Australia and Europe 1947-53. Commenced developing his present style of painting after returning from overseas. Has subsequently held one-man exhibitions in Auckland and Wellington. Finalist in the 1968 Benson and Hedges Art Award, and was second prize winner in the 1967 Manawatu Prize for Contemporary Art.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Sydney, N.S.W.

Walters is undoubtedly New Zealand's foremost practitioner of Op art and there are few artists working in any style who have resolved the combination of international (Op) and national (the koru-like forms) elements with the success that he has.



Robert Ellis, Motorways
Born in Northampton, England in 1929. Studied at the Northampton School of Art 1944-1947, and at the Royal College of Art London, graduating in painting in 1952. After four years teaching at the Yeovil School of Art he came to New Zealand in 1957 to take up an appointment as lecturer at the Elam School of Art University of Auckland. He has been there since, being made Associate Professor in 1966.

Ellis has held many one-man shows in New Zealand and Australia, and has been included in most contemporary New Zealand painting exhibitions, both local and touring, since 1962.

Public Collections: Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Adelaide.

Since 1960, most of Ellis' work has been based on various aspects of the man-made urban environment - predominantly the city itself and, more recently, the communicating motorway systems which steadily deface the natural landscape. For Ellis, the city has developed an organic life of its own, and the paintings convey the forces contained within it. Ellis' cities are highly complex images, built up from experience acquired at different times from many places. Although often superficially resembling aerial views of cities, they are in fact an assimilation of many viewpoints and experiences.




Mervyn Williams, Midas finds his Soul
Born in Whakatane, 1940. Studied at the School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland. Works as a silk-screen printer and was, for a while In 1969, a tutor at the Auckland Technical Institute.

Has participated in group shows since 1965 including a two-man show with Pat Hanly in Wellington in 1966.

His work has been included in the 1966 International Print Biennale in Tokyo and the 1969 Biennale in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia. Winner of "Samarkand Award" New Zealand Print Council, 1969 .

Public Collections: Auckland.

Midas finds his Soul makes use of a combination of Op patterns and a photo-copy of a detailed technical drawing of a compressive mechanical device implying pressure and stress. Williams' Midas symbolises certain ill-considered tendencies in our society, especially those that could endlessly exploit both physical and social environments to render them - as with the ill-fated original - ultimately unsuitable for human habitation.




Ralph Hotere, Red on Black
Born in Northland in 1931. Studied art at Auckland and Dunedin Teachers' Training Colleges. Worked in Northland as a school art specialist for nine years. Awarded an Association of N.Z. Art Societies' Fellowship in 1961, taking him to England and Europe; sponsored by a Karolyi International Fellowship in France and Italy 1962-63; returned to New Zealand in 1965 to resume his post as an Arts and Crafts Advisor to the Education Department. He left this in 1969 to take up his latest
award - the 1969 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at Otago University.

Public Collections: Auckland, New Plymouth, Dunedin.

Much of Hotere's recent work has been predominantly black, using other colour only for the thin cruciforms included in many of them.

In this "minimal art", surface texture, tonal variations and, in some highly polished paintings, reflections have played a large part in the effectiveness of the works. The multiple offers an excellent opportunity to deliberately deny painterly qualities and "Red on Black" can be regarded as perhaps an ultimate summation of Hotere's intentions.

Of an earlier body of work, to which this may be related, he says "(This) may be called an object of visual contemplation ... I have provided the spectator with a starting point ... It is the spectator who provokes the change and the meaning in (this work) ".




Michael Smither, Wave Invading Rockpool
Born New Plymouth, 1939. Studied School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland 1959-60. One-man exhibitions in New Zealand and Australia from 1965 onwards and has taken part in group shows including four exhibitions with the "Essentialists", 1968-69, a show that has visited Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. Has done many church commissions.

Finalist in the 1968 Benson and Hedges Art Award, and winner of the 1968 H. C. Richards Memorial Art Prize in Queensland.

Public Collections: Auckland.

The sea, and especially, the rock pool are recurring images in many of Smither's paintings. For maximum effect in the present medium he has simplified his normally super-realistic style while still retaining both essence and illusory effects of the foam-capped wave breaking into a rock pool. This multiple was printed under the artist's own supervision.




Patrick Hanly Inside the Garden
Born Palmerston North, 1932. Studied School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, 1952-55. Painted in London, Florence and Amsterdam, 1957 -62, British Art Council Award to Yugoslavia in 1960; awarded Italian Government Scholarship in 1960, Dutch Government Scholarship 1962.

Returned to New Zealand in 1962 and has devoted most of his time since then to painting although he acts as a tutor for both the School of Architecture and the School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. He has also been a tutor at several Adult Education summer schools in Wellington and Auckland.

He has held one-man exhibitions in London and New Zealand and has participated in group and travelling exhibitions in England, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Yugoslavia, Poland and Argentina, including the 1963 and 1965 Paris Biennales, the 1964 International Print Biennale in Tokyo and the International Exhibition of Graphic Art in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia in 1967.

In 1966 he won the Manawatu Prize for Contemporary Art.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin.

Hanly's exhibition of watercolours entitled 'Inside the Garden' was an expression of the artist's new attitudes towards existence and painting. Having readjusted to the external aspects of returning to New Zealand he is, in these works concerned with the inner nature of things. The garden is a place of peace and yet a place of great sub-molecular activity. "Those who see only the garden see nothing."

Unlike the other works in this series of multiples which are all silk-screen prints, this one uses a line block and stencils and was printed by the artist.




Colin McCahon, North Otago Landscape
Born in Timaru, 1919. Largely self·taught although he studied with Russell Clark in Dunedin from 1933 to 1935 and at the Dunedin Technical College 1937 to 1939 during the winter terms. From 1939 until 1948, when he moved to Christchurch, McCahon lived in various localities in the Nelson province. In 1953 he came North to join the staff of the Auckland City Art Gallery where he remained until 1964, leaving to take up a position as lecturer in painting at the School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland.

McCahon has held one man shows in one of the four main centres every year since 1947, and his work has been included in all the major exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand painting that have been assembled in this country. He spent four months, in 1958, in the U.S.A. on a Carnegie Grant. He was joint winner of the Hay's Art Prize in 1960. A retrospective exhibition (with M. T. Woollaston) was held in 1963.

Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin.

The land has always been one of McCahon's great loves and his paintings have included many landscapes incorporating religious themes. Several of earlier paintings depicted the crucifixion taking place amongst the Nelson hills. In 1965 the painter revisited North Otago, out of which came a series of landscape painting of which he has said:

"These landscapes are places I have seen and known ... in painting this landscape I am not trying to show any simple likeness to a specific place. These paintings are most certainly about my long love affair with North Otago as a unique and lonely place. The real subject is buried in the works themselves and needs no intellectual striving to be revealed - perhaps they are just North Otago Landscapes."




Michael Illingworth, Tawera
Born in England, 1932. Studied textile design after leaving school. Came to New Zealand in 1952. Worked, traveled and painted throughout the country until 1957 when he returned to Europe. He spent five years there painting, visiting galleries and working in a London dealer-gallery.

Apart from a brief period of employment after his return here in 1961, he has worked as a fulltime painter. Was recipient in 1966, of the first Frances Hodgkins Fellowship from the University of Otago.

Public Collections: Auckland.

The asexual Tawera is an image that has occurred often in Illingworth's work and is, perhaps, a natural and logical total symbol for the tiny stylised people who have been included in so many of his paintings. Here, too, we find the stylised portrayal of the almost idyllic landscape that Illingworth feels this country is.




Toss Woollaston, Patrick Lucas
Born in Toko, Taranaki. His only professional art training came from two terms at the Canterbury College School of Art in 1931, at Dunedin Technical College in 1932, and a further term at Canterbury in 1938. He lived at Mapua in Nelson from 1939 until 1950 when he moved further south to Greymouth. He has now moved back to the Nelson Province.

Woollaston has been awarded two fellowships by the Association of NZ Art Societies in 1958 and in 1960. He visited Australia for five weeks in 1958, and in 1960 he visited and painted in Nelson and later in Taranaki. An Arts Advisory Council bursary took him to Europe and America in 1962. "Erua" a book of drawings with an accompanying commentary was published in 1966.

He has held many one-man exhibitions and participated in many group shows throughout the country and has been represented in most of the travelling exhibitions that have left New Zealand. A retrospective exhibition (with Colin McCahon) was held in 1963.

Public Collections: Auckland, Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin.

Like McCahon, Woollaston has painted many landscapes but the human figure has held almost equal importance for him. H is distinctive style has been reasonably constant over the past thirty years. developing within itself rather than changing with the times.

Of his drawings he has said " ... lines, blotches, abstraction, naturalism they all go to serve in a crisis. For me every drawing is a crisis and its resolution."




Ross Ritchie, Three
Born in Wellington, 1941. Attended Wellington Technical College Design School part-time for 18 months, 1961 -62, otherwise self-taught. Moved to Auckland in 1964 and has worked at the Auckland City Art Gallery for most of the time since.

He has taken part in several two-man exhibitions in Auckland and Wellington, and his work has been included in travelling exhibitions that have left New Zealand.

Public Collections: Auckland.

Ritchie has been moving increasingly towards hard-edged imagery though up until now there has been very little pure abstraction. The detail of his earlier work has given way to strong, simple images as in this one, where Op elements are also used, giving the suggestion of 3 dimensions.




Milan Mrkusich, Passive Element
Born in Dargaville, 1925. largely self-taught. First showing of paintings and drawings was at the School of Architecture, University of Auckland in 1949. He has exhibited widely since, both here and abroad, including participation in a three man show that visited Paris, London and Brussels; and his work has been included in most important exhibitions of contemporary New Zealand paintings.

Public Collections: Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin

Mrkusich has nearly always painted in an abstract manner' this has evolved into a formal and extremely sophisticated style. Passive Element is an example of his recent work in which he expresses his concern with the colour problem in painting, synchronised with the expression of the deeper aspects of reality.


Buying Limited Edition Prints: What You Need to Know | NZ Fine Prints

Tony Ogle "To the Lookout" limited edition art print

What You Need to Know About Buying Limited Edition Art Prints


If you’re looking into buying a limited-edition print, whether you’re starting out your collector’s journey or are just really interested in purchasing a specific piece, edition info may not be the first thing you think about. Of course, if you have your heart set on a particular piece which you know you love, these details might not change your mind. However, knowing a piece’s edition info not only gives you a greater appreciation for the piece; it also gives you a clearer understanding of the piece’s value, the artist, and of the art market in general. Not sure how to go about buying limited edition art prints? Here are the important factors you will want to consider.

 

Edition Value

Many pieces of art—whether prints, photography, or sometimes even sculptures—are created in runs. These are multiple original artworks (not a reproduction of an original artwork) using printmaking techniques such as etchings, lithographs, etc. Even though many prints of the piece are made, they are counted by collectors and historians as ‘first edition’ artworks if they are part of a particular set. So, while a piece may not be completely one-of-a-kind, it is still considered unique or rare as part of an original run of prints. These limited-edition groups of works often retain their value very well, as artists usually destroy the materials needed to create extra copies that are exactly alike, such as photo negatives. That said, popular art can be re-printed for second or third edition runs, or even more if demand is high. These limited editions can also be worth more than a standard replication of a piece.

 

Print Number

Edition Number Pic
Print Number Example (8/75)
Given that editions get less valuable as they go on—first editions are more valuable than second editions, etc.—many assume this also extends to the number of the print. This is the number given to a piece to identify it within the edition. For example, if there are 20 copies in an edition, your piece may be labelled 5/20, or 13/20, or even 1/20. Contrary to popular belief, however, this number doesn’t impact the value as in general modern printmaking techniques don't wear out soft metal plates etc, which resulted in later prints being of lesser quality. In fact, most artists number pieces randomly, not in the order that they’re printed. Sometimes, the end of the scale (20/20 in our case) can be more expensive, but this is only because galleries tend to list limited edition prints in numerical order. As these run out and stocks run low, demand can lead to higher prices.

 

Artist Proofs

Limited edition pieces usually also come with artist proofs; look for ‘AP’ or ‘A/P’ in the edition info.
Mickey to Tiki (Reversed)
Mickey to Tiki (Reversed) by Dick Frizzell, featuring artist proofs
Other kinds of proofs exist too, which are provided by the printer, but artist proofs are more common. Artist proofs are popular at New Zealand Fine Prints because these are the first prints to be made, and any adjustments to the printing process are made by the actual artist working on these prints. The proofs themselves can be highly collectable—some of them might have notes or marks made by the artist, and this can make them much rarer and more unique.

 

Explore the world of art today

If you’re interested in edition info, your best course of action is to talk to the gallery or printmaker selling the prints. Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, we have a range of contemporary collectable ltd edition prints, alongside antique and rare pieces as well as our range of canvas prints, giclee fine art prints, and more, and we’re happy to answer your questions about the differences between all the different kinds of prints that we stock, whether open or limited edition. To find out more, get in touch with us, shop New Zealand’s largest collection of prints online today!

Why Abstract Art Is Ideal to Hang in The Home | New Zealand Fine Prints

Abstract art oil painting with orange, blue, yellow, red and grey

There are so many options when it comes to home decorating that it can be hard to know where to start. So, why not begin with abstract art prints— representations of a visual language that isn’t bound to any hard rules or restrictions? To some, this boundlessness can be intimidating, but in truth, decorating with abstract art is freeing and can be great fun! Ready to dive into the world of abstract art décor? Discover the four major strengths of abstract art and what they can do for your home below!

 

1. Abstract art can blend in, or stand out

Abstract pieces are truly flexible. These don’t have a defined style that’s common to all of them, so it’s more than possible to find something that blends perfectly into your existing colour story and style of décor. With a little work and a little more perusing, you’ll be able to find a piece that looks like it was tailor-made for the space it’s in, giving off a polished and well-considered look. On the other hand, if you’re looking to make a statement with a piece of abstract art, that’s more than easy to achieve. The same flexibility that helps you match pieces to a room’s existing aesthetic also swings the other way. It’s not difficult to find abstract art that will pop against everything in its space, becoming a cornerstone piece that challenges yet complements the room’s other decorative elements. Lastly, there’s such a wide range of stylistic sensibilities in modern abstract art that this flexibility makes them easy to place in any part of the house. Some rooms may benefit from art composed of smooth lines and soft tones, while others might benefit more from prints that use hard angles and bold colours. You don’t have to look far to find examples of both!

 

2. Abstract art is timeless

It’s largely thought that abstract art began as a movement in the late 19th century, with pioneers like Wassily Kandinsky and Gustav Klimt, but the history of art is a story of constant influence. All pioneers were inspired by those before them, and so there are elements of abstract art throughout ancient history as well. This timelessness of free expression is why so much abstract art still looks modern to us, even if it dates back to the 20th or 19th centuries, or even earlier! By definition, abstract art defies convention so soundly that you can be sure it will never go out of style!

 

3. Abstract pieces work well alone or in groups

Abstract art pieces are often hung alone, but for the more fearless decorators, these can be used to create engaging gallery walls. Alternatively, several small pieces along the wall of a corridor can help fill a long stretch of blank wall without cluttering it, acting as cohesive links between the décor of one room and another. Selecting abstract pieces by themselves is great fun, because there really are no rules—it’s best to trust your emotional response to a piece of art. That said, putting two pieces side-by-side can change how they look, owing to the change in context. You might find that a piece you dislike looks great when hung next to another, and it can be hard to put your finger on why. Again, with abstract art, there are no rules!

 

4. Abstract work can fill any wall size

Abstract prints don’t necessarily need to fit the size of the wall they’re placed on. In fact, you might even decide to not hang the work at all! It’s become a recent trend to take oversized pieces and lean them against the wall instead; this can be a really engaging way to fill space. Alternatively, smaller prints on big walls don’t look nearly as out of place if they’re abstract. Just like we pointed out before, the context can influence abstract art powerfully, and this includes the negative space of the wall too. If you’re working with less space, smaller corner pieces can add movement and life to the room. While a room’s corners are often overlooked or covered up with furniture, they can be enhanced with bold abstract pieces that are eye-catching and easily comprehensible from a distance.

 

Looking to add modern art prints to your own home?

The collections here at NZ Fine Prints cover a broad range of traditions and influences, including the abstract. Whether you’re looking for classic pieces, or contemporary modern art prints, we can help you find the piece you need to complete your home. Shop your next interior decoration piece today!

Buying Art for Your First Home | New Zealand Fine Prints

Buying Art for Your First Home? Here’s How to Start!

A nice, light home featuring a selection of framed art on the walls.
Moving into your first home is full of excitement, as you get to go about picking all your new furniture, decor and art! For many, having art in the home is a must, as it can make a space a thousand times more homely and welcoming. But how do you go about choosing those first pieces of beautiful framed wall art? You may not have the biggest budget, or an initial idea of how to fit art collecting in with everything else that goes into moving! That’s why we share some tips in this blog—read on to find out more.

 

Determine a few key elements

The first thing that’s good to do when buying art for your first home is to have a few design elements in mind that can be used as a starting point. There are lots of things you can learn about your own art taste (even if you thought you didn’t have any!) throughout the process of moving into your home—and you can use that when buying art! For example, look at the furniture you’ve already bought, are there any similar features between each piece? Do they all look somewhat bohemian, or are they bold and geometric? Did you lean towards a colour scheme? Even though you don’t want to feel bound to a style or colour palette when choosing art, knowing these elements that are already in your home can help you determine if you are a statement person, or whether you need an element of calm in your home. It can also help establish what’s missing, and what may be necessary to bring balance to your space in any capacity.

 

Do some research into artists

Art is always much easier to look at and understand when you know a bit of background about the artist, and on the flip side, you’ll find art more enjoyable if it’s by an artist you’ve researched and know a bit about. Do a google search of local artists from your area, or even just New Zealand Artists in general, and you may find a few artists that resonate with you, and whose art you connect with more as a result.

 

Buy art that makes you feel something

Art doesn’t always have to make you happy, doesn’t always have to fit in with the room décor, and doesn’t have to be exactly what you were searching for! These are all important things to remember, to help you browse art with a clear head, and focus more on the way you react to each piece—whether positive or negative. You might find a piece of art that feels challenging gives you a stronger feeling than one that simply ticks all the boxes. You may find that you keep coming back to a piece of art, or thinking about it long after you’ve gone home. If this is the case and you can identify that connection, chances are you are going to have a much more interesting time looking at that piece of art every day. Choose the piece of art that really makes you think.

 

Start with Art Prints and Photographs

If it's your first home, chances are you’re going to have a lot of time to build your collection of expensive art. For the time being, you’re just going to want to have a home that’s full of exciting elements and accessories. A house with art always feels more like a home, but you don’t have to rush into buying original pieces of art right from the get-go, and it may not fit well with your budget either. A great solution is to buy a good selection of quality photography or art prints. You can buy art prints from almost any New Zealand or international artist, and if you investigate photography, you’ll find a whole other world of art altogether. There’s no way this option is going to limit your selection in the slightest. Instead, art prints give you the freedom to choose your art at a more affordable level. The unique paper and framing methods used in a good quality art print also mean you don’t need to compromise on quality. You can even decide on Limited-Edition Art Prints for your own unique piece.

 

Quality Art from New Zealand Fine Prints

For good quality art prints at affordable prices, look no further New Zealand Fine Prints. We offer a huge range of local and international art prints perfect for any New Zealand home. Plus, we offer a range of framing options, and we can ship our framed prints NZ-wide. Browse our collection and find your perfect prints today!

How to Talk About Art Without Sounding Pretentious | NZ Fine Prints

How to Talk About Art Without Sounding Pretentious

Art is something that we will all encounter in many places in our lives—whether it’s in the reception of an office where you are trying to impress, a friend's home as you pop over for tea, or in its natural habitat, the many galleries that house art up and down New Zealand. But there’s a problem with eyeing up a piece of art and deciding whether to make a comment - the all-encompassing fear of sounding ‘pretentious’. When did enjoying art mean that we must learn ‘art jargon’ in order to talk about it at a level that’s ‘passable’ within the art community? 

Surely, we can just learn to enjoy art and make a passing comment that isn’t unnecessarily snobby sounding. After all, it’s entirely possible to simply enjoy art and just talk about it casually; everyone loves a good yarn! So, without further ado, here are some insightful tips on how to talk about art without feeling queasy about it!

A couple looking and discussing some art prints on display.
What to say about your friend's new art prints? 

Use words everyone understands

Dispel the preconceived notion that you must learn a whole new vocabulary to talk about a piece of art. If you aren’t confident talking about art and find yourself hesitating because you don’t understand what ‘chiaroscuro’ means, then just try to say the words that do come to mind when you see a painting. There’s nothing wrong with just saying you like the shadows or the dark colours in a painting. It becomes a lot easier to talk about art when you start with what you understand. As you become fluent in your own art language, the more complex terms will start to make a lot more sense as well.

 

Keep the detail limited unless prompted

If you’re really encouraged to say things about art (for example, in a situation when you’re around an art boffin and put on the spot to talk about their latest piece) and you aren’t feeling super confident, then just keep your message short and sweet. Stick to one thing you like about the piece, whether that be colour, composition, texture, tone pattern or anything else. Say what you choose to say with confidence and assurance.

 

Tap into your own personal reactions or feelings

Talking about art is usually just boiled down to how the art makes you feel. If you don’t know how to talk about the specific details of the art piece, it can be equally as valuable to discuss how the art made you personally feel or react. Use similar words that you would use to talk about your emotions, such as ‘angry’, ‘calm’, or ‘excited’. It can be as simple as capturing your first impression and putting that into words.

 

Sound pretentious if you want to!

Maybe you’re actually extremely enthusiastic about a piece of art, and you’ve read up about its history and happen upon a piece of art that you’re extremely passionate and know a lot about. If you’re enjoying talking about the art, don’t worry about sounding pretentious! Don’t present a dulled down version of yourself just to conform to the rules of the art world - or anyone else’s world for that matter! Art is something that spreads joy, and if it makes you happy to talk extensively about it, then go ahead. Your confidence and enthusiasm will be a breath of fresh air for whoever you’re talking to. Depending on who it is, they may even enjoy learning something new.

 

There are no mistakes

As a great artist, Bob Ross, once said, “There are no mistakes, just happy accidents”. Take this piece of advice the next time you feel like speaking up about a piece of art, and just go ahead. If you like art, express yourself and enjoy it openly. Fill your home and your office and even your car with your favourite pieces. Share it with your family and friends! Never feel as though you aren’t qualified enough to say why you like about a painting.

 

Art Prints from Art Enthusiasts

When it comes to New Zealand art in particular, we get pretty excited, and we could talk about it all day! If you’re a fan of New Zealand art as well, then there’s no better place to shop for your favourite prints than right here at NZ's art print experts since 1966. From art deco prints to framed wall art of your favourite pieces, we’re your local go-to. Shop our range online today!

Dick Frizzell homage to Colin McCahon in new print

Dick Frizzell makes his latest print
In Colin Compared, Dick Frizzell comes up with a modern twist on Colin McCahon's Virgin Compared painting to pay tribute to this famous NZ artist and to say thank you to Peter Simpson for his wonderful McCahon book released in March 2020 (Colin McCahon 1 : There is Only One Direction, Vol. I 1919-1959).  In the period between 1946 and 1948, McCahon turned from depicting landscapes to Christian imagery. By synthesising disparate elements - portraiture, still life and symbolism (for instance the lamp and jug) with words McCahon emphasised that his works had a message.
Dick Frizzell's homage to Colin McCahon "Colin Compared"
Dick Frizzell's print "Colin Compared"

Dick told me in an email:

"I did a little gouache portrait of Colin for Peter Simpson to thank him for his brilliant McCahon book. i was inspired by the Theo Schoon photo of Colin on the verandah next to his fabulous painting of the Virgin Mary compared to a jug of pure water etc (one of my favourites).

Then i thought… I reckon that that’d make a great print!"

It’s meant to reflect that painting…of the virgin etc hence the close, dark colour scheme sp in the skin tones! Old school!!

May not be everybody’s cup of tea… but getting some good feedback up here!"



I have always liked the way that the Hocken library published prints of the McCahon painting popped up in the background of photographs of NZ writers and artists at home during the 1970s and 80s. A leitmotif of the era when a more confident NZ identity was emerging.

Here is video I found of Dick talking about the impact of McCahon's work a few years back, in it he calls McCahon's paintings "Hypnotic" and the artist gave him, "Something to think about forever".

You can now buy the "Colin Compared" limited edition print by Dick Frizzell delivered direct from New Zealand Fine Prints.  It will be lovely to see these prints in the background of another generation of New Zealander's dust jacket photographs!




The Benefits of Framing Your Art Prints | New Zealand Fine Prints

The Benefits of Framing Your Art Prints

A row of framed New Zealand art prints leaning against a wall

Having art prints and buying art is a relaxing pastime for many New Zealanders. But when it comes to framing, it’s another decision to make whether or not to add one to your purchase. Frames can be especially beneficial to any art purchase for many different reasons. In this blog, we’ll take a look at what difference framed wall art can make!

Keep Your Art Looking Newer for Longer

One of the most significant benefits of framing wall art is that it is a sure-fire way to extensively increase a print’s longevity. We all know too well the amount of collected dust, sun damage, and general wear and tear any piece of art will come across even in the most spotless of houses! A frame will protect your art significantly by providing a barrier between the artwork and the elements.

Instead of having to carefully remove dust directly from the parchment of your print, you can easily grab the spray-and-wipe and dust off the glass and frame. In the rare case any water damage should occur in your home, you can rest assured that your frame will be a good, hearty surface to stop a general spillage or leak from causing extensive damage to your art. Even in a bright and sunny room, the glass of a frame will be an extra barrier against UV rays that can cause your print to fade. You can even look into more advanced UV glass protection if your print is positioned somewhere that gets direct sunlight.


Frames Add More Value

Not only is a frame an excellent form of protection for a piece of art, it can also add additional value to a piece. After all, a frame is a crafted adornment that can add another element of beauty, elegance and overall quality to your art piece. Italian renaissance paintings were famous not only for the art themselves, but also for the stunningly extravagant frames that they were housed in, which showed likeness to the art nouveau architecture of the time.

While most art frames today are not so nearly intricately carved or adorned, they are still a beautiful piece of contemporary design which can hold immense value. Whether they are hand-carved out of a decadent woodgrain, or a simple yet on-trend design that fits into a contemporary style, frames can hold varying values to whoever owns them.

Work It into the Home

Frames add excellent benefit to any homeowner who is particular about their interior style. Pieces of art are unique; they often don’t fit into any particular trend or design style, because they are their own entity and shouldn’t have to. This makes it trickier for people to fit them into the right spaces in their homes—what if the colours don’t match perfectly or the textures clash with the wall behind it?

For homeowners who want to own beautiful art and incorporate it into the interior style of their home at the same time, a frame is the perfect middle ground. It sets a piece of art apart from its interior surroundings, creating a barrier that allows you to choose whatever art you like, and work it into whatever style of home decor you surround it with. Often, a solid white or black frame can be perfect for this. It causes the art to live inside the frame and prevents it from clashing with the space around it.

What about Canvas Prints?

You may feel a little different about framed canvas prints. Due to their interior frame already placed on many of them during the stretching or mounting process, there may be less reason to add an external frame. While this is true, and canvas prints can work better than many other forms of art on their own, it is still good to frame your canvas prints for longevity, value, and style.


Shop Framed New Zealand Art Prints

If you’re looking for a framed art print for your home, we have the widest range of New Zealand and international art prints available online. Get a print delivered right to your doorstep, framed and all! Shop online today.

New Zealand Fine Prints is [not] delivering as usual during the lockdown

Prints NZ wide & Overseas Will [Not] Continue to Ship

[Updated: Just after this post was written the government clarified their regulations to say only essential goods were allowed to ship or be delivered after 25 March.]

During this unprecedented closedown of many NZ businesses Aotearoa's specialist art print and poster store will still be shipping prints, posters and canvas prints.  Our staff are working from home and shipments are being picked up by our couriers and delivered anywhere in NZ or around the world.

New Zealand Fine Prints' artists are supplying us with prints as normal and supplies from publishers of modern art prints that we import from the USA, Europe and the UK are still arriving as usual.

We have good stocks of prints on hand including framed wall art and canvas prints that can be delivered ready to hang.

Art has been uplifting,  reassuring and inspiring people during the most difficult times for thousands of years. Our hope is that if we continue to make it easy for New Zealanders to find and buy art prints for your home or as a gift to lift the spirits of your special people over the coming weeks New Zealand Fine Prints are making the small contribution that is all a business like ours can do to help get all of us through this difficult time.

Below is the latest update regarding deliveries from Aramex [Fastway].  NZ Post is also classed as an essential service and will remain open for Airmail shipments.


Aramex New Zealand 
OPERATING BUSINESS AS USUAL NATIONWIDE 


Afternoon All,
 


As you would have heard, the government have announced that we are to move to a Covid-19 Level 4 status effective midnight on Wednesday 25 March 2020.
 


The Prime Minister has made it clear at this stage that the Transportation sector is considered essential services and hence are a critical link to providing the first and last mile of supplies throughout the country. This being the case, Aramex New Zealand will be resuming Business as Usual service throughout New Zealand.

Our network is currently working very hard within the guidelines of the Ministry of Health (MOH) to manage growing parcel volumes during this challenging time.

We ask for your patience and will endeavour to provide up-to date service announcements as the situation progresses.


Stay safe

The Aramex New Zealand team.



The Role Graphic Design Played in Inspiring Some of New Zealand’s Best Art (and Vice Versa)

Side A, Side B print by Dick Frizzell – Graphic Design and Fine Art in New Zealand

Graphic design is often described as a form of art used to convey a specific message, primarily created for commercial purposes. There is now a huge graphic design culture in New Zealand, spanning back to the first graphic designers of the 1930s who began their training in technical colleges from as young as twelve years old. [Update: We are now showcasing all of these prints in our NZ Design/Graphic Art Prints collection.]

From the first print advertisements, tourism posters, and art deco prints, right up to the brands we see as we walk through the shops of Ponsonby or Lambton Quay today, graphic design is a huge part of our culture and history. But how has the graphical genre played a part in this country’s fine art history? When did the two professions intertwine and how did this affect the art scene? Here, we aim to bridge the connections between graphic design and fine art in New Zealand.

Early Graphic Art


NZ Graphic Art Poster "Mountain Daisy"
If we look back at early graphic design in New Zealand in the 1930s, much of it was influenced by the small yet powerful connection we had with the rest of the world. 

By the1960s, advertising was booming. This was the ‘Mad Men’ era of the Volkswagen Beetle and Lucky Strike Tobacco. The iconography and mixtures of type, illustration, and even some photography in these campaigns trickled down to the New Zealand industry where some of our first graphic designers were finding their feet. 

But what did we have to advertise? We may not have had any major global brands to make ads for back then, but we had a growing tourism industry, and plenty of places to sell to the rest of the world. 

Our tourism posters from the 1930s onward reflect graphical practices while being pieces of art on their own. Their art deco and pop art style blur the lines between graphic design and art, cemented by their bold use of signwriting. 

Type as Expression


As modernist art grew in popularity around the world, New Zealand artists began to develop their own expressionist style that is uniquely Kiwi. 

Colin McCahon played a huge part in defining this style, as he moved away from nationalist landscape art towards unique letterforms and figurative, graphic art. Through the medium of paint, McCahon revolutionised the way designers were using typography, and opened letters up as expressionist forms.

Print of Colin McCahon's painting "As there is a constant flow of light"

Many Kiwi painters took inspiration from this, most famously Dick Frizzell, and those iconic paint-stroke letterforms became a uniquely kiwi ‘typeface’ in their own right.  This writer was tempted to buy McCahon's letterbox when it came up for auction a few years back, for it was numbered in McCahon's distinctive writing!

Now, as our graphic design industry propels itself onto the world stage, type foundries such as Klim use the medium of type to extend graphic design into an art form of its own. The concept of type as expression has come full circle. Klim has held art exhibitions displaying typefaces, such as ‘There is No Such Thing as a New Zealand Typeface’ and has even featured in Erik Brandt’s global interventionist experiment ‘Ficciones Typographika’. 

Although the digital age has allowed us to use type in more than just hand-painted letterforms, we continue to return to the expressionist phase of typography that originally held so much power. 

Revolutionary Practices


As late capitalism grew in sophistication, and branding becoming a more graphic style, so too rose the opportunity for artists to create expressionist work that reacted to the world around them. As an example, Andy Warhol explored the lines between artistic expression and advertising with his heavily branded, pop art pieces. 

Braeburn - hand lettered graphic style print by Dick Frizzell
Dick Frizzell sign written letter style print
Many artists in New Zealand adapted a similar style at the time with our Kiwiana iconography. Dick Frizzell was a leader in this genre, with his Four Square Man interpretations that so heavily blurred the lines between branding and artistic flair.

Today, there are a growing number of contemporary artists (Glenn Jones and Hamish Allan, to name a couple) who take inspiration from Dick Frizzell, creating modern, fine art giclee prints juxtaposed with a similar nostalgic style. And really, why wouldn’t they? Art is often a reflection of the world around us. 

New Zealand art is both nostalgic for brands of yesteryear and is growing our current ones at such a fast pace. It seems that where art often took inspiration from graphic design; now, it is a medium of contrast—to rebel against it. Have we had too much of a good thing? Or are we just nostalgic for a simpler time?

Graphic art Available at New Zealand Fine Prints

No matter where you stand on the spectrum of design versus art, there is no doubt that some of the country’s best works were influenced by a creative community that worked together. You can get yourself a piece of this history with one of the many modern art posters available at New Zealand Fine Prints. Shop online today!

Art Prints for the Quintessential Kiwi Bach | New Zealand Fine Prints

5 Art Prints for the quintessential Kiwi Bach

Baches Print by Barry Ross Smith

By now we can all be in agreement that Kiwiana is not just a passing fad but an enduring and evolving genre that is here for the long term. And beyond the hallways of trend-setting Auckland bungalows is a huge space for Kiwiana as soon as we step out of the cities—at the quintessential kiwi bach.

From the Bay of Islands to Queenstown, New Zealand is coast-to-coast full of seaside, lakeside, and just out of the wayside towns, and everybody knows somebody who’s got a bach at one of these many picturesque spots around Aotearoa. The bach itself is as much a part of Kiwi culture as the framed wall art we associate so significantly with them, so today, we’ll explore the perfect posters to hang in everyone’s perfect bach.

A Kiwi Character

Dick Frizzell "A Lad Insane"
You know the face, with those forever-raised eyebrows and round, button nose. Never without his apron or his thumb plastered high in the air. It’s the Four Square Man! 

He’s an iconic figure on a huge range of Kiwi prints. But what makes him just so synonymous with beach towns and bach life if not for the fact that there’s at least one of the grocery franchises positioned strategically among every single small town across the country?

The Four Square Man was originally designed by the Foodstuffs advertising department in the 1950s. He’s been through quite a few development stages to get to where he is now, and in fact was only initially supposed to be a part of the few newspaper ads the brand was running at the time. The character really ingrained itself into Kiwi culture when famous Kiwiana artist Dick Frizzell began to incorporate him in many of his prints. In fact, much of the Four Square Man art that we see today are variations of Frizzell’s work.

A Stunning Landscape

Rangitoto from Takapuna by Alison Gilmour
Of course, there’s an art print for every bach. So even those who aren’t so much into our iconic characters can appreciate the side of Kiwiana that celebrates our natural landscapes, whether it’s the rolling hills of our lush farmland, or a turquoise coastline complete with pohutukawa silhouette in the foreground.

We have such a beautiful country, and quite few talented artists who are immortalising its settings, so why not hang one of their landscape prints proudly at your holiday home?

Some Flora and Fauna

Tui & Kakabeak by Holly Roach
Floral designs are a great way to bring a piece of the outdoors in and really tie a space together. Plus, they bring a pop of colour that’s cheerful and inspiring.

New Zealand botanical prints look great in any bach because often they will mirror the natives that line the surrounding beaches, streets and forests of your special holiday places.

From a classic fern to a cheerful kowhai, you’ll have so much to choose from that you’re sure to find the perfect botanical poster for your humble (or not so humble) bach.






Cultural Kiwiana Icons

Kiwiana artist Matt Guild's "A tip?"
Kiwiana is symbolised by our many icons. Every kiwi recognises these! Some find it brings nostalgia for their childhood, and the rest of us just know them from their many appearances in the media, in stories and in physical, giant-sized forms. 

What’s exciting about our contemporary artists, is that many of them take these classic Kiwiana icons and put their own flair on them, creating a print that is both nostalgic and modern. There are lots of different styles of Kiwiana art prints these days, no longer restricted to recycling or remixing mid-century commercial iconography. Consider a hyperrealist print by painter Matt Guild, or the cheerful posters in bold colours that Glenn Jones offers.






Something A Bit Touristy

Marlborough Sounds Vintage Poster
Us kiwis are always finding hidden hideaways and exploring new territory, so it’s definitely not out of the ordinary for us to be tourists in our own country. So, why not embrace the tourist?

Tourism art is a staple across western culture, and there’s been an excellent collection of the genre coming right from our back doorstep.

Have a look and see if you can’t find a vintage tourist poster from your very own bach heaven. It can be truly special to frame a piece of history in your holiday spot.








Art Prints for Every Kiwi Bach

Next time you’re looking for more art for your bach to hang alongside the nigh on obligatory New Zealand map poster, there are lots more to choose from than you’d expect! Here at New Zealand Fine Prints, you can browse all the posters and prints you can imagine. Shop online today!