Book reviews: David Jones: 175 years, Nga Tau ki Muri (Our Future)

Book reviews: David Jones: 175 years, Nga Tau ki Muri (Our Future)
David Jones: 175 years is a must-have for anyone interested in fashion, history, art and style. Nga Tau ki Muri (Our Future) is a visual call to arms, for citizens to consider the state in which we're leaving the country for our children.

David Jones: 175 Years by Helen O'Neill

I have a real thing for big coffee table books that would put your back out if you had to carry them any further than from the coffee table to the couch. Yet I hate the things – because I have no space for them. As a result, I content myself with looking at them in the office and then inflicting them upon giving them to someone else.

I’m almost tempted to hold onto this one, though. As a former Sydneysider, I have a soft spot in my heart for David Jones. 

The iconic department store started up in 1838 with a hustler of that very name, who opened up shop in Sydney. Now there are stores all over Australia and the brand name is synonymous with style and progress.

The book features incredible fashion images and treasures from the archives, plus pics from Max Dupain’s private collection and original sketches by Norman Hartnell, who was a dressmaker to the Queen.

Anyone who’s interested in fashion, history, art and style will drool all over the pages of this gorgeous book.

(Just don’t return it to me when you’re done.)

Nga Tau ki Muri (Our Future) by Ans Westra

This delightful coffee table tome encompasses six key Kiwis (poets and politicians – make of that what you will!) and their thoughts to introduce a range of images from all over New Zealand. Some are lush, some pretty, some gritty, and yet others are almost plain, but all are thought-provoking images. Westra hasn’t fallen into the trap of opting merely for beautiful landscapes, but rather opted for a ‘take it as you find it’ sort of approach.

Indeed, the book is intended as a visual call to arms, for citizens to consider the state in which we’re leaving the country for our children. Westra also intended it to make people think about calling a halt to hasty decision-making at this point in history.(Cup of tea and a lie down, anyone?)

My favourite part is a threeparagraph quote from David Lange, which he wrote for Westra in 1987, intended to be the introduction in a book of photos with essays from prominent New Zealanders. The book never came to pass – she couldn’t get enough people in power to commit to the vision – but nevertheless, Westra held onto the text.