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Award winner: Nature — Stilled

Stunning photographs of remarkable natural history specimens From the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Nature-Stilled_cover

By Jane Ussher

Publication date: October 2020
NZ RRP (incl. GST): $70.00
Extent: 364 pages
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-9951136-9-5

Buy the book here

Award-winning photographer Jane Ussher spent several weeks in Te Papa’s natural history collection storage areas shooting this outstanding book, and the result is a true treasure. Stunningly photographed and beautifully designed, its 157 images capture the glory of the insect, fish, mollusc and botanical specimens that represent the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s vast and scientifically important collections.

Te Papa’s expert curators and collections managers have written the short texts about each natural history object, giving concise and unique insights into the fascinating characteristics of each of them.

From photographs of huia and kākāpō to vivid x-rays of fish, gloriously coloured moths and butterflies, unique mosses, and lichens collected in Antarctica, this outstanding book pays tribute to the glories of our natural world.

Look inside Nature — Stilled

Awards

Nature – Stilled won the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book and the Penguin Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book at the 2021 PANZ Book Design Awards. The judges commented: “Beautifully done. This book shows immaculate production and sensitivity for Jane Ussher’s careful yet expressive photography and the overall subject. This is balanced with the designers’ own spirit and attitude in the typography, colour palette and materials, including the quietly radical chromatic-plate ordering that results in unexpected interspecies juxtapositions (at one point: crab, zebra, trout, moths, lichen and beetle). Respectful and joyful collaboration is evident across the project: between publisher, editors, photographer, curators, technicians and the designers. Subtle but defining details like the tonalities across animal subjects, photo backdrops, the quarter-bound linen stock, two-toned marker ribbons and marbled endpapers all match the attention to typography throughout. The cover display type is ultimately revealed to be derived from the Dominion Museum foundation stone, and the body text is set in an additional typeface designed specifically for the book – in the three different weights with italics, no less. If method acting involves a sincere performance through in-depth and lived research that identifies emotionally with the given subject, this is method designing. Stunning.

Nature – Stilled was included in the list of the best Antipodean photobooks published in 2020, “Ussher takes what could have been the unpromising subject of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s natural history collection and turned it into an elegant, engaged portrait of all manner of bird, fish and insect life.”

Nature – Stilled is one of four books shortlisted for the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non Fiction, “Jane Ussher is one of Aotearoa’s most accomplished photographers and she has clearly approached this project with great respect and enthusiasm for the exhibits which represent our vanishing natural world, and have never been more worthy of our attention.”

Nature – Stilled is a finalist in the 2021 Designer Institute of New Zealand for Best Design Award. 

Reviews

Nature – Stilled in Spinoff Books, reviewed by Catherine Woulfe “people say “stunning” lightly but that’s really what it felt like, the first time I opened Nature – Stilled. There is no flicking through. You sit and you look properly and it is a pleasure, to pause like this over images, to be still.”

Nature – Stilled in Design Assembly “despite having a luminary photographer guiding the project this Nature—Stilled is more than a photography book. This beautifully conceived document is an opportunity to learn about the natural history of New Zealand beyond the museum’s displays.”

The 2020 November issue of North & South described it as an “… awe-inspiring volume.”

Scoop described it as “… an astonishingly beautiful volume of both great scientific and aesthetic interest.”

Nature – Stilled in NZ Booklovers “Ussher, and the Te Papa Press team, have created a true treasure, bringing these pieces of history out into the light.”

About the author

Jane Ussher MNZM is one of New Zealand’s best-known photographers. The staff photographer for the New Zealand Listener for many years, she now has her own photography practice and regularly works for leading magazines and book publishers. Her many books include Coast: A New Zealand Journey (with Bruce Ansley), Worship: A History of New Zealand Church Design (with Bill McKay), The New Zealand Horse (with Deborah Coddington), Face to Face (with Paul Moon), Hillary’s Antarctica (with Nigel Watson), Islands: A New Zealand Journey (with Bruce Ansley) and Still Life: Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackleton (with Nigel Watson).

Publication date: October 2020
NZ RRP (incl. GST): $70.00
Extent: 364 pages
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-9951136-9-5

Buy the book here