Archives For Art

Art and conservation join forces to restore Tamatea/Dusky Sound in a nationally toured exhibition featuring some of New Zealand’s most renowned artists.

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Take a sneak peek at a new book celebrating artists who work in conservation, including some of DOC’s own keen artists.

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As New Zealanders our natural environment is closely tied to our identity—it’s part of what makes us who we are. It’s no wonder then, that our natural environment serves as a muse for so many of our musicians and artists.

Today, as New Zealand Music Month draws to a close, we delight in this connection with a visual feast of album covers inspired by our natural environment.

So many great album covers, so little bandwidth to transport them all to you…

Do you have a favourite New Zealand ‘inspired by nature’ album cover?

Felicity Deverell has left her home and studio behind her to embark on a drawing adventure in the New Zealand backcountry. She plans to draw about 50 huts to feature in an exhibition/book. Felicity writes about some of her challenges so far.

Drawing Mangamuka Hut in the Kaimai Range.

Drawing Mangamuka Hut in the Kaimai Range with my co-plotter Caleb

Drawing out in the wilderness is very different from in the studio. It has its difficulties but is very enjoyable on the whole. I love being outside, and I love drawing, so it was a great holiday for me.

A drawing of Te Totara Hut in the Te Urewera National Park.

Te Totara Hut in the Te Urewera National Park

The challenges of drawing huts abounded. In the first place, it was difficult to find a good angle to draw the hut from. It wasn’t just a question of which side the hut looked most interesting from, often finding one possible drawing angle was hard. Most huts were either closely surrounded by bush or long grass, so I had to find ways of getting around that.

Getting far enough away from the hut to get a good view of it, and to get it to fit on my paper, was a challenge, but I always found a way.

At Te Totara Hut in the southern Ureweras I sat up on a slip over the river from the hut. The hut was surrounded with tall grass so that was the only place I could get a proper view of it.

Felicity sketching amongst the native bush.

Sketching amongst the native bush

Before I began drawing the huts, I thought of just doing sketches of them, and working on larger more detailed drawings later, as the main thing to show at an exhibition. But I am now thinking that what I draw out there is worth more than what I could do in my studio. They have more interest and character to them, and capture the feel of the place.

A watercolour paining of a hut hanging on the hut wall.

Watercolour on location

For an exhibition and a book, all I really need is the material I get out there. But I still intend to do a few paintings on canvass and for those I will work on my studio from sketches and photographs.


More information on Felicity Deverell and her ‘The Art of a Hut’ project is available on her blog.

You could enjoy a backcountry hut experience of your own by finding your ideal hut break on the DOC website.

The giveaway is now closed. The lucky winner is kākāpō fan Tania Seward of Auckland, who recently visited our Official Spokesbird for Conservation, Sirocco the kākāpō , at Maungatautari.


Buller’s Birds of New Zealand, edited by Geoff Norman, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful books I’ve laid eyes on and, thanks to Te Papa Press, I have the privilege of giving away a copy here on the Conservation Blog.

“This precious and beautiful book is a perfect celebration of the precious
and beautiful birds of the precious and beautiful islands of Aotearoa.”
Stephen Fry

A memorial to a vanished world

This brand new (launched last month) edition contains the complete set of 95 classic 19th century ornithological paintings by John Gerrard Keulemans, reproduced in the most spectacular colour and detail.

Each painting is a masterpiece that I’d happily frame for my wall (although pulling apart this precious cloth-bound book to do so would be criminal – I might have to buy the calendar or cards for that project!).

Aside from the art, the book also has Buller’s original, descriptive text, as well as up-to-date taxonomic information in English and te reo Māori.

It’s valued at $150 and, on the off chance that you don’t win a copy here, you can purchase it from bookshops nationwide or online at www.tepapastore.co.nz.

Bush wren/mātuhituhi and rock wren/pīwauwau

Be in to win

To be in to win leave a comment on this post before 12 noon, Monday 12 November 2012, telling us why you want the book. A winner will be selected at random and contacted by email.

The giveaway is open to everyone, except employees of the Department of Conservation and their immediate families; however, we can only ship to New Zealand addresses.

Good luck!

Yellowhead/mohua and whitehead/pōpokotea

Stephen Fry says it best…

“There can be no finer example of the pinnacle of Victorian cataloguing than the stupendously fine work of Buller and Keulemans in their monumental collaboration… this wondrous, perfectly fashioned masterpiece marks a kind of dividing line between the old New Zealand of slaughter and extinction and the new New Zealand, which is one of the most conservation-minded, eco-aware and environmentally progressive nations on earth.

“Keulemans’ unprecedentedly detailed and exquisite images of every New Zealand bird that Buller could spot, catch and describe amount to a supreme work of art the like of which it is hard to find anywhere else in the realm of natural history…

“The re-publication by the Te Papa Press of this pioneering work with an exhaustive, deeply researched, highly readable text by Geoff Norman will be welcomed by scholars, field-workers and enthusiasts the world over. It is a memorial to a vanished world and a reminder of the vulnerability of biodiversity – how millions of years of creation can be undone by only a few centuries of destruction.

“I am dizzy with pride at being offered this opportunity to introduce it to you. This precious and beautiful book is a perfect celebration of the precious and beautiful birds of the precious and beautiful islands of Aotearoa.” – Stephen Fry

By Siobhan File

As part of the DOC’s 25th anniversary celebrations, I asked around to see what posters DOC staff had tucked away from yester-years. Check them out and vote for your favourite…

Knowledge on these posters is limited, so if you have any information about these, or any gems of your own hidden away, I’d love to hear from you!


Care for your country – 1973

This is by the famous Wellington cartoonist Nevile Lodge who must have been specially commissioned to do this poster.

Care for your country

Conservation is all year – 1976

This is a favourite for many. It was designed by Howard Campbell and was the winning entry in a competition sponsored by Todd Group and WWF.


Save us a place to live – 1979

This lovely poster was created by Don Binney, produced for the National Conservation Week Campaign Committee, with assistance from the L.D Nathan Group of Companies.


Nature’s place in town – 1981

And we move into the eighties… A Conservation New Zealand poster; simple, and to the point.


Reflect your concern. Plant a tree – 1981

It’s Conservation Week, but this guy doesn’t look too happy about it. Nice inclusion of Arbor Day messaging though.


The alpine world

This poster was developed at Mount Cook in the mid 1980s in conjunction with the publication of an A4 book The Alpine World of Mount Cook National Park.

A similar poster was printed for Tongariro National Park, but the concept didn’t get used for a wider national message.

Len Cobb from Cobb/Horwood, who did many of the National Park A5 handbooks, did the production.


Tread gently on the ice

This poster was produced by DOC staff member Harry Keys when he worked at the Commission for the Environment (CFE) in the mid 80s. CFE had become part of the government’s delegation at meetings of the Antarctic Treaty parties which, at the time, were dominated by the question of how to assess proposals for mineral and hydrocarbon exploration and development in the Antarctic region. It was widely displayed in post offices throughout New Zealand.

Tread gently on the ice


People need plants

It’s true. A lovely landscape produced by the Post Office Savings Bank for Conservation New Zealand.


Shelter from the storm

The wild and uncompromising nature of New Zealand has given rise to a unique diversity of shelters and huts scattered throughout our back country. This collection of images was put together by the Federated Mountain Club, supported by the Hillary Commission.

Shelter from the storm


New Zealand’s Forest Parks

Something for everyone! Contact your nearest Forest Services office for a wide range of experiences and recreational activities.


Community forests and woodlands

Produced in 1985 for International Year of the Forest.


Conservation Week 2009

This poster was designed by Saatchi & Saatchi – a snapshot of the future!


Conservation Week 2009

Get involved in conservation and who knows… a clever campaign that conjures a whole heap of ‘what if’ thoughts.

Conservation Week 2009 – 2


What’s your favourite?

So, what is your favourite poster? Vote in our poll (below). Any memories around these? If you have info to add about any of these posters, comment below and we’ll add it to the descriptions. If you have copies of your own posters that you’d like to share, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

The history of Conservation Week posters

In the early seventies, Conservation Week came under the umbrella of the Nature Conservation Council, with other agencies and organisations represented on a Conservation Week committee. Each year, with sponsorship, it produced a promotional poster and a themed teaching poster with teachers’ notes.

The Wild Things exhibition kick started Conservation Week in Rotorua with a display of the works of Madeleine Child and Philip Jarvis. The work was the results from their Wild Creations residency.

Wild Things exhibition

Wild Creations is the Department of Conservation’s Artists in Residence Programme, run in partnership with Creative New Zealand. Each year Wild Creations gives three New Zealand artists the chance to spend six weeks in natural or historical sites to experience the people, stories and challenges of the site, and draw inspiration from their surroundings to use in their work.

Mt Tarawera in nylon and polystyrene

Sculptor and writer duo Madeleine Child and Philip Jarvis came to the Rotorua Lakes region, with the idea of creating objects for an exhibition using ceramics and other materials from the area. Stationed at Lake Tarawera, the artists had unfettered access to the beauty and splendor of the mountain and lake vistas.

“This work being kind of souvenirs-of-our-time in this weird and romantic region: real and imagined landscapes, the past and present, the mythical and magical, solid and fleeting… volcanoes, rock, mud, dense weed, clouds, ash, mist, reflections,” explains artist Madeleine Child.

Mount Tarawera in nylon and polystyrene

New materials made their way into the works: fishing line, paint on mylar, polystyrene, and plaster. Working drawings and marquettes were created, with some ideas exported back to Dunedin, where further ceramic pieces have been created for the show. In keeping with the environmental theme, the works also use throwaway materials: coffee cup lids, polystyrene, and old CDs.

Lake Weed - nylon & ceramic

Lake Weed - nylon & ceramic

“Wild Creations allows DOC the opportunity to support artists to explore the natural environment, to develop new work and connect a (potentially) new audience with some of our special places via with their art (and the stories it tells).

“Often these stories are told in a totally different method and medium than the traditional forms of interpretation, inspiring others to take an interest or rekindle ones passion,” says DOC’s Robert Griffiths.

The ‘Wild Things’ exhibtion will run from the 9th – 30th September at the Rotorua Arts Village.