Our Interview with Little Doomsdays Creators, Nic Low and Phil Dadson

Little Doomsdays
Little Doomsdays by Nic Low and Phil Dadson on the library catalogue
Little Doomsdays by Nic Low and Phil Dadson

Little Doomsdays is a lavishly illustrated collaborative art book between musician/painter Phil Dadson and writer Nic Low. It’s the fifth in the ‘kōrero series’ of books, conceived and edited by Lloyd Jones.

In Little Doomsdays, legendary musician and painter Phil Dadson responds to a wildly innovative text by Ngāi Tahu writer Nic Low that’s steeped in te ao Māori. Together they play with the notion of ark and arc in a manner that is at once beguiling and challenging.

Nic Low, head and shoulders shot, against a brick wall backdrop
Nic Low

Nic Low (Ngāi Tahu) is the partnerships editor at NZ Geographic magazine and the former programme director of WORD Christchurch. A prize-winning author of short fiction, essays and criticism, his writing on wilderness, technology and race has been widely published and anthologised on both sides of the Tasman.


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Peter Coates interview: Kilbirnie art exhibition

Peter Coates  ‘Renaissance Man’.

One of the several careers Peter Coates has pursued in his life is as an acclaimed artist. When Peter approached the Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library about staging a retrospective art exhibition we jumped at the opportunity.

That exhibition is now open 

Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library

Exhibition runs until 26 May.

Peter Coates has several lifelong passions, including being an international artist who has exhibited widely – including the prestigious Mexico International Watercolour Biennial and has works in major collections globally such as the National Art Museum of China. He recently exhibited at the Beijing Biennale. From an early age Peter was interested in art, both his grandparents were artists and his father sold painting materials. Peter also has a lifelong interest in the teaching of Art to children and beyond.

Peter is also a major pioneering television director and producer in New Zealand, who has directed or produced over 390 programmes for NZ national television. This work particularly championed arts on TV, rugby  documentaries and programmes about disability. Peter was awarded the Broadcasting Award by the NZ Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council . You can view a sample of his television work here at NZ on Screen.

Peter was also a major force in the New Zealand opera scene, both here and abroad. He has sung in, directed or produced major operas for the NZ Opera Company, Wellington City Opera, De La Tour Opera, and TVNZ: such as The Magic Flute, The Barber of Seville and  Hansel and Gretel.

Since retiring, Peter has largely focussed his creative efforts on his art which is where this retrospective exhibition at  the Ruth Gotlieb (Kilbirnie) Library comes in.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Peter for taking the time to answer our questions, for providing such an illuminating insight into his life, world and work, and also for giving us permission to use images of his artwork  in the interview.

All art is copyright Peter Coates and used with kind permission.

Top 100 Non-Fiction books from 2022

Highlights of 2022

Our list of the top 100 non-fiction books for 2022 includes the best in memoirs and biographies, poetry, local history, science and technology, health, cooking, music, art and architecture. We’ve selected an eclectic mix of acclaimed local authors, New York Times Bestsellers, Pulitzer prize winners and breakthrough newcomers, meaning there’s plenty of choice for the deep-dive readers and coffee book lovers alike (and everyone in-between).

2022 Non-fiction Highlights — Browse the full list
Browse the full list with all our picks, or browse just the topic you enjoy!

I'm glad my mom died / Jeanette McCurdyMy fourth time, we drowned / Sally HaydenAs ever, the compelling human stories encompassing grief, love, personal trauma and strengths of character shine through, with a hearty selection of memoirs and biographies to choose from, including Sally Hayden’s critically acclaimed My fourth time, we drowned. Topping our most heavily reserved new non-fiction title of 2022 was Jennette McCurdy’s hit memoir I’m glad my mom died. A little further off the beaten path, was Hua Hsu’s ‘quietly wrenching’ coming-of-age memoir Stay True, and the visual delight of Kate Beaton’s graphic memoir Ducks: two years in the oil sands.

Contributions to the local poetry scene were beautifully espoused in Khadro Mohamed’s We’re all made of lightning and in the visual expressions of the poet/painter collaboration within Bordering on Miraculous. Shining locally likewise, the great architectural designs in Making Space and HomeGround, which highlight design as a conduits to push social boundaries in Aotearoa New Zealand communities.

Regenesis / by George MonbiotCalls for climate awareness were made riveting in The Alarmist, Nomad Century and Regenesis. Our oceans were also a focal point for many this year, and explored in great depth, with Jellyfish age backwards, Secrets of the Sea and in Adrift: the curious tale of Lego lost at sea, among others.

The collapse of historic empires, stories of divided nations and political parties in turmoil were explored in a multitude of ways in the vast array of global history titles featured on our list. Included are Legacy of Violence: A history of the British Empire by Pulitzer prize winning Historian Caroline Elkins, and Fragments of a contested past: Remembrance, denial and New Zealand history by Joanna Kidman.

Wawata: Moon Dreaming / by Hinemoa ElderWe let the world’s first astronomers take us on a star gazing tour, and found daily wisdom in Hinemoa Elder’s Wawata: Moon Dreaming. Cap off 2022 by allowing yourself to become enveloped in worlds both near and far, and understand our past, present and future within the Top 100 non-fiction books of 2022 list. Pair with our Top 100 fiction books list, and you’re all set for your Summer Reading Adventure.

Ōtaki artist Rosemary Mortimer: Q+A for ‘Proof’

In the lead up to our Proof’ Book Launch + Artist Talk, we chatted to some of the artists featured in the book.

At her Ōtaki studio artist Rosemary Mortimer spoke to us about her creative process of finding and printing from found objects.

Join us at 11am this Saturday November 26th at Karori Library, as we celebrate contemporary printmaking with artists featured in the upcoming book ‘Proof: Two Decades of Printmaking‘. Showcasing the exhibitions, techniques and traditions of the Print Council Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ), this new publication is the first survey of fine art printmaking to be published in Aotearoa. View artworks and chat to the PCANZ artists about their studio practices, in this collaborative discussion on the incredible diversity of the printmaking medium.

What: ‘Proof’ Printmaking Book Launch + Artist Talk
When: Saturday, 26 November 2022, 11am – 12pm
Where: Karori Library

This event is presented in conjunction with Massey University Press and PCANZ. See more of Rosemary Mortimer’s artworks on her website. Special thanks to Justine Hall – Kāpiti Coast Art Trail for generously supplying the video footage used.

Find all of the details for the ‘Proof’ Book Launch + Artist Talk on our events calendar and on Facebook. For more artist interviews, check out our studio Q+A’s with Wellington-based artists Basia Smolnicki, Kirsty White and Carrie Carey.

Proof: Two Decades of Printmaking

“A superb showcase of some of the best examples of contemporary fine art printmaking in Aotearoa New Zealand today. With 180 works by 127 artists, Proof covers a huge breadth of printmaking processes and display the incredible diversity of this artform, from the more traditional woodcuts and etchings to those pushing the boundaries of print. With a foreword by Susanna Shadbolt, Director of Aratoi, Masterton, brief essays on the history of PCANZ, including significant exhibitions, and a glossary of printmaking terms and techniques this book is a valuable resource for art students and teachers. This first book on fine art printmaking ever to be published in New Zealand is a visual feast for designers, graphic artists, book binders, artists and art lovers.” (Catalogue)


Artist interview: Lisa Reihana

All images are used with permission and are copyrighted.

Lisa Reihana CNZM (Ngati Hine, Ngai Tūteauru, Ngāi Tūpoto, Ngā Puhi) was born in 1964 and grew up in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.

Lisa is one of Aotearoa’s leading artists: a multi-disciplinary visionary whose practice spans a multitude of mediums including photography, film, costume, sculpture, body adornment, and text. Her work has significantly influenced the development of contemporary art and contemporary Māori art in Aotearoa New Zealand and continues to do so to this day.

Lisa’s practice amongst many things “explores the desire to re-examine colonial history and represent countless counter histories and memories. And draw out inspiration from life worlds of communities in the present. And often contain a strong story telling content.”

Her work and practice has gathered a host of awards and accolades, including being made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (she was already a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to art) in this year’s  Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours list,  being an Arts Laureate, and a recipient of the Te Tohu Toi Ke Te Waka Toi Maori Arts Innovation Award from Creative New Zealand.

Lisa has a prodigious output and has exhibited in just about every major gallery in Aotearoa New Zealand, not to mention numerous worldwide. In 2017 she represented Aotearoa New Zealand at the 2017 Venice Biennale with the sublime In Pursuit of Venus [infected] (2015-17).

We were thrilled when we were asked to interview Lisa about her latest exhibition Nomads of the Sea, which is on at Porirua’s PATAKA Art + Museum until Sunday 3 July 2022, as well as many other aspects  of her remarkable career.

In Nomads of the Sea Lisa uses large-scale, immersive installations and weaves together numerous threads – from museums, archives, and historical accounts to Māori narratives and Māori belief systems. It features four significant works selected from her vast body of work from the last 15 years.

Find more information about Nomads of the Sea at PATAKA Art + Museum here.

This interview was done in conjunction with Caffeine and Aspirin, the arts and entertainment review show on Radioactive FM. You can hear the interview, as well as find a selection of books that feature Lisa Reihana and her work that is available to borrow, below.

We would like to mihi to Lisa for giving us her time and such a fabulous interview.

In pursuit of Venus / Reihana, Lisa
“To accompany the exhibition of the new multi-media work by artist Lisa Reihana in Pursuit of Venus (infected) at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki”-.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Lisa Reihana: emissaries / Reihana, Lisa
“Catalogue to accompany the exhibition ‘Emissaries’ by artist Lisa Reihana, New Zealand’s official entry in the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.” (Adapted from Catalogue)



Digital marae / Reihana, Lisa
“This richly illustrated, modestly sized casebound book is devoted to Digital Marae; a major ongoing photographic and video project by one of New Zealand’s foremost artists Lisa Reihana. Edited by Govett-Brewster Director and curator Rhana Devenport, contributors are leading Maori architectural historian Deidre Brown; Melbourne-based curator and writer Victoria Lynn and cultural theorist and sociologist Nikos Papastergiadis; and Te Papa curator Megan Tamati-Quennell. Additionally, an extended interview with Reihana by Devenport reveals the complex layers of influence that inform this ambitious and significant work.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Taiāwhio II : contemporary Mäori artists : 18 new conversations
“Taiäwhio: Conversations with Contemporary Mäori artists, profiles a fresh range of contemporary Mäori artists. Each profile contains pages of information and quotes from the artists so readers can learn, in the artists’ own words, about their influences and inspirations, work methods and practice, while numerous full-colour photographs accompany each chapter, depicting the artists at work and showing the range of their work and the environment in which they create it. Short biographies are given for each artist profiled and a general introduction by Huhana Smith provides context for the interviews and background information about contemporary Mäori art. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Pasifika styles : artists inside the museum
“In May 2006 some fifteen artists from New Zealand took over the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge (UK) as part of Pasifika Styles, a groundbreaking experiment in the display of Pacific Art. Installing their works in cases next to taonga or treasures collected on the voyages of Cook and Vancouver, the artists flung open the stores of the museum to bring more of the museum’s unparalleled Oceanic collections to light.. This book describes Pasifika Styles, from the perspectives of artists, museum professionals and scholars involved in this pioneering project.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Artists on art : how they see, think and create / Black, Holly
“Through a carefully curated selection of quotations, images and interviews, Artists on Art reveals what matters most to the masters. You’ll discover how the giants of the different artistic genres developed their distinctive visual styles, the core ideas that underpin their practice and, most importantly, what art means to you.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Womankind : New Zealand women making a difference / Thomson, Margie
“Profiles and portraits celebrating the successes and diversity of New Zealand women across many spheres – politics, arts, science, community development, business innovation and health. These leaders share their views on what it’s like to be a woman in New Zealand today- the contributions they are most proud of, challenges they have faced and still face, dreams they have and goals for the role of New Zealand women. The range of women covers diverse fields, ages and ethnic backgrounds .” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Find our full range of resources featuring Lisa’s work here.

WCL interview: Acclaimed artist Robèrt Franken

Portrait of Robèrt Franken in a studio with his painting.

Wellington artist Robèrt Franken was born in 1946 in The Hague, into a family with a long and rich artistic heritage. He grew up in the studios of Mesdag, connected with the Panorama Mesdag Museum, and is a sixth-generation artist.

Franken has lived in the Wellington region since the late 1960’s. Robèrt Franken and his work have travelled extensively, with exhibitions in Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and China over many years. His works are also held in numerous national and international collections, including Wellington’s very own Te Papa.

“The Messenger” © Robèrt Franken

Franken works in a wide variety of mediums, such as glass engraving, ceramics, mosaic and oils. He was responsible for the sparklingly, colourful mosaics at the bottom of shallow ponds between the old Town Hall and the Michael Fowler Centre. His works have been described as Surrealist, but Franken walks to much an individual path to be pigeonholed so easily.

“Into the day” © Robèrt Franken

To illustrate this point, here are a couple of quotes from Franken which clearly demonstrate his unwavering commitment to following his own unique artistic path. “As an artist, one tries to invent a language for which I have no words.” and “Perhaps the true measure of an artist is their ability to see things differently, to redefine reality.”

We are thrilled to be interviewing Franken about his practice and, in particular, his new show Reflections in a pond which just opened at the PATAKA Art + Museum in Porirua. Reflections in a pond runs until the 20th of March. If you can’t make it out to Porirua, Franken regularly exhibits at the  Walrus gallery in Wellington.

Follow this link for details of Reflections in a pond at PATAKA Art + Museum, and here for details about the Walrus gallery.

We are absolutely thrilled to announce that you can watch our interview with Robèrt Franken below! Or, if you are more a podcast fan, there is also a podcast version of the interview. We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Robèrt Franken for his time and giving us such a fabulous interview.

Franken: “My special thanks to Jonathan and Alice Milne for being my sponsor over the past 25 years as Artist in Residence at the Learning Connextion, and to Michelle Homer at Walrus Gallery for my Framing and hanging my works.”

All photographs used in the video and displayed above are © Robèrt Franken (All rights reserved).

10.98 seconds of Wellington artists / Maschmeyer, Lennart
“Wellington, like any other place, is made unique by its people. And Wellington is made a unique place especially by its community of artists. Inside these pages are photographs of musicians on stage or painters at work, capturing both their artistic and private sides. Altogether, the amount of time captured by photographs in this book adds up to just over ten seconds, as is the title. “…an intelligent, empathetic and unique record of the contemporary artistic community within the Wellington region.” -Avenal McKinnon (Director New Zealand Portrait Gallery)” (Adapted from Catalogue)