Archives For Art

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

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