THE AUCKLAND BOOK (2014): An illustrated guide to the Queen's City

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THE AUCKLAND BOOK (2014): An illustrated guide to the Queen's City

At the launch of this wittily illustrated book this past week, one of the prime movers behind the project Nigel Beckford spoke of the joy of the collaborative process.

At a time when our politics seems so dirty, divisive and confrontational, his comments reminded you that the world is a better place when people pool their talent, work together with a single vision and -- this is important -- are rewarded for their efforts.

The business model for FizBeck Books -- the company established by Wellingtonians Beckford and Michael Fitzsimons -- is the inverse of what you normally find. The most common scenario is work is done, the bills are paid and the contributing talent gets its cut somewhere further down the line, if at all.

AKL002_SC_209_largeFitzBeck pay their young collaborators upfront (which is very smart when you think about it) and so their enthusiasm bleeds into the project with work being delivered on deadline and to a very high standard.

The young illustrators in this 128 page volume come from the illustrations course at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) headed by Simon Clark who is also an award-winning painter/illustrator in his own right (see his current exhibition here) so he had oversight on their progress.

And despite the number of artists used -- seven including Jess Lunnon who has been invloved in their previous publicatons The Wellington Book and The NZ Book -- there is a consistency of aproach which ties things together neatly.

AKL002_PR_213_largeUnlike The NZ Book which was a little tongue-in-cheek and even heretical in places, The Auckland Book (as with the Wellington one) plays a straight bat to the history, cultures and places of the country's largest and most diverse city.

Packed with facts (Ponsonby was originaly called Dedwood, Grafton Bridge built in 1910 was once the largest reinforced concrete arched structure in the world), The Auckland Book offers outsiders and locals alike a glimpse into the workings and life of a city that sits within 49 discrete volcanic cones and has 40 percent of its population born overseas.

SetWidth700_1Accommodating the city's ethnic diversity, distinctive suburbs, various architectures and multitude of cultural events from the Pasifika Polyfest to the Nines is no mean feat. But any book that can get in Rainbow's End, the black sand beaches of the West Coast, the uniquness of St Kevin's Arcade and a potted history of Bastion Point is clearly operating with refined and fine focus.

Previous FitzBeck books across a wide range of topics and commissions (see here) have won design awards and you might expect this one to be similarly acknowledged.

As with those others mentioned above, this is the kind of book you buy for yourself, as gifts for overseas visitors or send to family and friends who are now living elsewhere to remind them of home.

Chock full of handdrawn pictures, it has a comfortable, personal feel about it.

Given how fast the city is changing -- St Lukes shopping mall down the road from me is planning to double in size in the next few years -- they might have to do another in five years. 

For more details on The Auckland Book or to purchase a copy ($45) see here

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