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Apocrypha: The Maps of Roger Mortimer

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January 2022
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Apocrypha: The Maps of Roger Mortimer looks at the distinctive and singular painting practice of Roger Mortimer. Through his enigmatic and surreal juxtaposition of medieval imagery on current marine charts from around Aotearoa, Mortimer presents metaphorical, timeless and universal stories of navigation and transformation, drawing on 15th century illustrated manuscripts of the famous poem The Divine Comedy by the Italian poet Dante. This important and beautiful new book – with 160 pages, more than 50 images (some on double page spreads) and seven texts including a conversation with the artist – examines 12 years of Mortimer’s map paintings. The editors say they hope the book will contribute to a discussion, not simply around the nature and place of New Zealand art and its complex relationship to its European origins, but also around contemporary Pākehā cultural identity and its relationship to Te Ao Māori. As art historian Leonard Bell writes in his essay in the book, Mortimer’s pictorial mappings are productively improbable, outside the predictable and formulaic, just as the most intriguing contemporary art is.