‘Citizen Art’ – Miniature Hikes: the book

Citizen science is all the rage right now in New Zealand, especially given its emphasis in the National Science Challenges and Science and Society project. Getting the public participating in science experiments is seen as a way to get them engaged in science. Te Papa is currently running its own citizen science project, in conjunction with the DeCLASSIFIED exhibition.

But what about public participation in art?

One good example is Miniature Hikes, which I blogged about last year. This is a public art installation of tiny huts in hidden spots around Wellington by local artists Kemi Whitwell and Niko Leyden of Kemi Niko & Co. Last weekend I attended the launch of their coffee table book resulting from this project. All Materials Salvaged; The Story of Miniature Hikes and Huts of Welling Town features photographs and experiences shared by members of the public who have enjoyed these hidden treasures.

The recently launched book resulting from the Miniature Hikes public art project.

The recently launched book resulting from the Miniature Hikes public art project.

The launch was well attended and featured people reading out their own hut ‘logbook’ entries that had made it into the book, as well as sharing memories of their visits to the huts. This project seems to have struck a chord with many Wellingtonians, prompting them to explore the hidden parts of our city. For example, one young boy created some special childhood memories after finding Robin Hut on Wellington’s south coast by insisting that his father bring him back to camp overnight next to the hut. As a regular walker and explorer of Wellington I was surprised at how many new places I discovered while ‘hut-bagging’.

Kemi Whitwell and Niko Leyden launch their book.

Kemi Whitwell and Niko Leyden read from their new book at their book launch and community picnic.

The book also provides some history about the project and a behind-the-scenes peak into how the huts were constructed, as well as some lovely photos of Wellington’s wild places. If you were lucky enough to visit any of the huts over summer then you can buy a copy of the book here and see if your comments are featured.

If you haven’t seen the huts yet then you still have a chance, if you are quick. Although the initial plan was for the project to be completed in March, many of the huts will remain in place into April (check Kemi Niko & Co‘s website for the latest information on each hut).

I can’t wait to see what Kemi Niko & Co. come up with for their next project.

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