Plenty to discover in art book

Painted over 14 years ago, Three children at Okains Bay is one of many paintings, prints and drawings Gregory O'Brien has chosen to feature in Back & Beyond (Auckland University Press, hbk, $35), his second book on New Zealand art aimed at children.

Back & Beyond: New Zealand painting for the Young & Curious looks not only at recent works, but also art from the past - Maori rock drawings, engravings by Sydney Parkinson who accompanied Captain Cook, as well as by Rita Angus, Colin McCahon, Frances Hodgkins, and more recent works.

"Every painting tells us something about the world we didn't know before. Every great painting is a discovery," he writes, and throughout this well-illustrated book he helps us discover some of the things the paintings and drawings can show us.

He explains the mixture of seeing and imagining that is art and the big themes of New Zealand art, journeying and "poozling" - a sort of collecting things from past and present and finding new arrangements.

At the end there's a lists of things to do and think about to follow up the experience of reading and looking at this book.

Another excellent book to follow his award-winning, Welcome to the South Seas: Contemporary New Zealand art for young people (2004).

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