Project follows spirit of Du Faur

Dunedin artist Lynn Taylor (left) and University of Otago printer in residence Sarah Smith with...
Dunedin artist Lynn Taylor (left) and University of Otago printer in residence Sarah Smith with the 2016 Otakou Press print project in the Otakou press room at the University of Otago yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The steps of Freda Du Faur, the first female mountaineer to climb Mt Cook/Aoraki, are being retraced in ink  in a University of Otago print project.

University of Otago special collections librarian Dr Donald Kerr said the university’s annual Otakou Press print project would focus this year on poems by Rhian Gallagher  about Miss Du Faur’s climbing expeditions on Mt Cook from 1909-13.

The project was particularly significant this year because the printer in residence, Sarah Smith, worked at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, a University of Otago partner college, he said.

The book, titled Freda Du Faur, Southern Alps 1909-1913, was an all-female collaboration, Dr Kerr said. Not only did the poetry focus on the feats of Miss Du Faur, but both the project artist and printer in residence were women, Dr Kerr said.

Printer in residence Dartmouth College Book Arts Workshop manager Sarah Smith said she was enjoying learning about the geographic and social history while printing Ms Gallagher’s poetry.

"It is also nice to form that connection with printers in New Zealand and I think a lot of people in the [United] States would be interested in her [Miss Du Faur’s] story."

Ms Smith printed the text of the poems in a "very traditional way", hand-setting the lead type and hand-inking the words with rollers.

Dunedin artist Lynn Taylor said her illustrations mixed "old and new techniques" to create the botanical and topographical images that would fill the book.

The 120-copy run was the largest hand-print project she had been involved with.

"I’m trying to eat the elephant bit by bit."

Dr Kerr said some of the university’s permanent print collection, including works by Hone Tuwhare and Ralph Hotere, would be displayed at the Dartmouth College print space later this month.

A wayzgoose (celebration at the end of a printing project) for the Otakou Press project would be held on September 7.

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