Limited edition book now available on pre-order

\\\ Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa — a paper record. /// documents the collective work of Aotearoa New Zealand’s feminist design community who participated in the 2019 poster project and exhibition hīkoi Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa led by typographer, designer and artist Catherine Griffiths, founder of the independent, volunteer non-profit platform Designers Speak (Up). 

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A perpetual, waving, ‘red ink on paper’ flag, \\\ Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa — a paper record. /// is a reminder of the challenges, issues and questions that continue to confront a community of designers, and beyond. The Poster Call delivered a sense of empowerment, a collective action, and an awareness amongst those who participated that they have aided and abetted the ambition of Designers Speak (Up) to “record the current landscape of women in design” and offer some visibility to the unheralded diversities of Aotearoa New Zealand design. The act of making this book is a further manifestation of activism in the spirit of the project.

— Catherine Griffiths, introduction ‘— a paper record.’

Pre-order \\\ Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa — a paper record /// from our SHOP with a release date set for September 2023. Published by Vapour Momenta Books with the support of Creative New Zealand and Lost Time,  contributors to the project will each receive a copy as koha. Book launch details below!


In 2018, with three statistics-based posters , Catherine protested across social media, against the lack of female representation and diversity in Aotearoa’s design history, highlighting very clearly the issue at stake. Within weeks, her initial action ignited the design community, and activated several projects out of her independent studio practice, both single-handedly and with a core team of supporters, especially Alice Connew and Katie Kerr: Designers Speak (Up), the blog platform; Action 40/3, a protest with Auckland Feminist Action Group held outside the Best Design Awards; the Directory of Women* Designers; and Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa, the poster project and exhibition hīkoi. And now the book: \\\ Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa — a paper record. ///

The poster project launched early 2019 with an open call by Designers Speak (Up) to all Aotearoa women/womxn/wāhine/-identifying and non-binary designers to design a poster using the format to explore and address any social, cultural, or political issue of concern. \\\ Present Tense : Wahine Toi Aotearoa /// first exhibited in Kirikiriroa Hamilton, then toured Aotearoa from Ōtepoti to Kaikohe, gathering in more than 100 poster-and-text contributions over the nine month period. 

Opening hui at the Britomart Works on Paper x Phantom Billstickers iteration in Tāmaki Makaurau: 94 large-scale posters from the Poster Call were pasted up alphabetically by first name in sets of 30 over four weeks, rotating each Wednesday. Kōrero, waiata and laughter in celebration of the fourth stop on the project hīkoi, and the publication of the fourth essay, ‘Te Marama / The Moon’ by Elle Loui August.

The result: 115 poster contributions and accompanying texts by 117 designers, artists, students, educators, curators and more; six commissioned essays by art and design writers, Lana Lopesi, Chloe Geoghegan, Desna Whaanga-Schollum, Elle Loui August, Michelle Wang and Emma Ng; six exhibitions at six gallery spaces and venues far north to deep south across the motu; five curatorial texts; public programming and community-wide participation. 

The project gave participants unprecedented visibility and support, in turn raising greater awareness around the “unsung diversity” of Aotearoa design. It continues to create, uplift and empower, and has engaged an even wider community of supporters from other groups by opening minds and creating awareness of issues beyond a straight call for acknowledgement and recognition. The online presence and ongoing activity of this mahi and Designers Speak (Up) has evolved into a relevant and critical teaching resource and tool, used and referenced by practitioners and educators in design, both Aotearoa and internationally. 

Zara Olifent, Resist/Exist (2019) / Zoe Morehu, 47 Plunket Terrace 3216 (2019)

The act of making and publishing the book is another form of activism in the spirit of the project: “to give visibility to all women/womxn/wāhine/-identifying and non-binary designers to be brave and speak up using the poster medium. It’s a space for myriad voices to be heard, supported and championed in the wholehearted, collective way that is the Designers Speak (Up) kaupapa.”

Set in red ink on paper, it is hoped \\\ PT : WTA — a paper record. /// will further the dialogue and critical discourse towards meaningful and still-necessary change. By it’s very presence, the book is a declaration of sorts, both container and vehicle, transmitting this huge volume of messaging — visual and text, designed and written — of deep thought, creatively, emotionally and intellectually. It is a powerful visualisation of a particular landscape in Aotearoa. A shifting, changing landscape that refuses to slip away.

— DSUp /  July 2023

Book launches, koha copies + pre-orders

25th Ramp Festival / Kirikiriroa

Tuesday 8 August 2023
Social Space / R Block / Wintec
Kirikiriroa Hamilton

With the support of the Lost Time project and Creative New Zealand, Catherine Griffiths and Bruce Connew of Vapour Momenta Books will launch the book with Festival director Megan Lyon, Gallery director Wendy Richdale, ĀKAU and friends at Ramp Festival.

Please join us to celebrate on Tuesday 8 August.  Book launch details here.

Enjoy Contemporary Art Space / Te Whanganui-a-Tara

Saturday 12 August
Cuba Street, Pōneke Wellington

After Kirikiriroa, we go to Enjoy Contemporary Art Space in Pōneke, which was the last stop on our 2019 hīkoi under the Director-ship of Sophie Davis, and now, thanks to Director Daniel John Corbett Sanders welcoming us back on an impromptu whim, we are excited to be planning for Saturday 12 August. Please come and meet us at the gallery — collect your pukapuka — we will celebrate with a few words soon after 2pm, kōrero over coffee, kanohi ki te kanohi >> details

Te Tuhi / Tāmaki Makaurau

Saturday 26 August
13 Reeves Road, Pakuranga
Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Just days ago, Te Tuhi curator Andrew Kennedy and his team offered to hold a Tāmaki book launch for us at the gallery — please join us in celebrating \\\ Present Tense : Wāhine Toi Aotearoa — a paper record. /// on Saturday 26 August 2023 >> details

Contributors to the project will each receive a copy of the book as koha either at the launch or by post, with a further 150 copies available on pre-order for a September 2023 release.

Soft cover with A2 poster folded to dust-jacket wrapped onto silkscreen-printed cover, 328pp, section sewn, 240 x 170mm, upright, 665 images (photographs, facsimiles, posters). Printed in Shanghai, China. EDITION of 350, published by Vapour Momenta Books, 2023

First sighting of digital signatures and wet scatter-proofs / photo: Anja Thomas

Pre-order \\\ PT : WTA — a paper record /// from our SHOP

Limited edition silk-screen prints for SALE

Five of the nine silk-screen printed posters, including posters by Ella Sutherland, Bryn Fenemor, and the original three by Catherine Griffiths.

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A1 portrait, 594 x 841mm

The nine limited edition posters are for sale in our SHOP.

View the set and read the stories here.