On the first occasion that David Straight and I met (at the house of a mutual friend of ours, Simon Farrell-Green), I mentioned a book project that I had wanted to undertake over the course of the preceding 10 years, but had never got around to in earnest. David said ‘That sounds great.’, and several weeks later we began to document aspects of our everyday landscapes (initially within reasonably close proximity of Auckland).
The aim of the book is to explore the interest and beauty that is present within places and objects that have arisen out of everyday life – with a critical eye, rather than veering into kitsch or nostalgic sentiment. It covers cities and towns, rural areas, wild places, marae, industry and any areas where people have made their marks. During the previous 2 years, we travelled to as much of New Zealand as our finances (and respective business lives) would allow, looking intently at all kinds of landscape features as we moved our way through the country.
As part of the process of bringing the book into reality, we needed to find a publisher, and prepared a pitch for Potton & Burton (then Craig Potton Publishing). I was already familiar with their track record in preparing fine books on natural history (most notably ‘Ghosts of Gondwana’ and ‘New Zealand’s Native Trees’), and their combination of rigour and reach to a popular audience made them our first choice.
Thankfully, Robbie Burton saw things the same way as we did, and has shown a great deal of enthusiasm towards the venture throughout. ‘Vernacular’ will come out in the latter half of October, and be available from a wide range of booksellers.
A small run of 50 limited edition copies has been put together, in which signed and numbered copies of the book are encased in a custom-made slipcase, and come with an archival photographic print by David Straight. These are being pre-sold from the website that we have set up especially to provide information about the book (vernacularlandscape.com). Within that website, we are regularly adding stories about our travels, and the nature of the things that are examined in the book.