New book takes Kiwis on a nostalgic journey

‘Down the long driveway, you’ll see it’: A comment uttered so often by Kiwis in our land of sub-divided sections and winding cul-de-sacs.

Down the long driveway, you'll see it is the name of a new book by Kiwi photographer Mary Gaudin and writer Matthew Arnold, that collates 14 modernist New Zealand homes from the 1940s to early 1970s.

And whether or not you grew up in a retro abode, you'll likely recognise details from your childhood in the way homes are captured in the pages.

In her photographs, Gaudin takes the reader on a journey that's both comforting and reminiscent of growing-up Kiwi – from a view looking straight into a fan of ferns, to a fruit bowl on the kitchen table catching rays of filtered sunlight. 

Photography by Mary Gaudin

Photography by Mary Gaudin
Photography by Mary Gaudin

As Gaudin says on the book's website: "These houses aren't new, they’re old and lived in. They can be a little dusty, slightly worn around the edges and all have what antique dealers like to call “patina”.

"But they’re perfect in the minds of the people who live in them because of what they represent, which when designed, was a better way of living."

Text by Arnold introduces each house, leaving lots of room for readers to mull over minor details of everyday life in these homes. Plus, there’s eye candy aplenty for those who enjoy the furnishings and materials of mid-century architecture.

Photography by Mary Gaudin
Photography by Mary Gaudin

Gaudin lives in Montpellier, France, and flew in last year to photograph the houses. She had been looking for a project, and was inspired to capture modernist homes after seeing how many were destroyed after the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

She connected with Arnold, who she says has a massive knowledge and love of New Zealand mid-century architecture, spending countless hours collating a list of the 14 homes in the book.

Says Gaudin: “It was an inspiring few weeks. The owners of each house were incredibly generous with their time and were only too keen to talk about the history of their homes.

“I especially loved hearing stories and anecdotes of the tenacity often required in getting these houses built.”

And, the title of the book? It comes from directions given to Gaudin by one of the homeowners.

'Down the long driveway, you'll see it', by Mary Gaudin and Matthew Arnold
Photography by Mary Gaudin

Down the long driveway, you’ll see it, by Mary Gaudin and Matthew Arnold, is available online.