'The Art of a Hut'

Above is a video of me talking about each picture in the exhibition. So glad that all the hard work is now done and excited to be sharing all the work now.

Click on the link below to view the complete collection as seen in the exhibition. All works are now for sale directly from me. Please contact me with any questions.

The Art of a Hut Exhibition
10 - 29th November 2015

Rayburn House, Whangeri

The Project: 
   The project is to create a collection of 60 drawings of the backcountry huts of the North Island, New Zealand in preparation for an exhibition, and also with the intention of publishing a book of my drawings and about my experiences. 'Mud, Bush, and Graphite: The Art of a Hut' is the working title for the book, while the whole project and the exhibition is called just, The Art of a Hut.

   There are hundreds of DOC (Department of Conservation) and other huts all around New Zealand and I plan to draw about 60 of them. For the moment I am concentrating on the North Island, but if that goes well, I will be eventually doing the South Island also. So far I have completed two 'hut hopping' tramps. I have drawn twenty huts throughout the Kimai, Urewera, and Kaweka, and Ruahine ranges, and will be working my way around the other areas during the next two years. We stay at every hut I draw on the journey, experiencing all kinds of different adventures and recording them in our journals.

   It is an exciting adventure I have embarked on, I already have many stories to write of and every drawing has it's own story as well as that of the hut it portrays. I am learning a lot of local geography, where all those places are that I know the names of but can't place on the map. It's been exhausting getting fit, but it soon grew easier. I did damage my knee in the first few weeks of tramping (iliotibial band syndrome apparently!), so I have to be careful about that and wear a knee brace. I'm hoping that wont slow me down too much though. The hills get bigger the further south I go, but more and more beautiful. This is an amazing opportunity as an artist which I wouldn't miss for the world, and who knows what will happen afterwards, what doors will be opened, and where I'll find myself because of it. I'll be keeping up this blog as much as I can as I go along so you can follow the adventures of an artist lost in the bush.

   Me, Felicity Deverell; you know, that artist who writes all this stuff.

    Caleb Bergstrom is the co-plotter of this project. You can read about him here. He has been with me on every trip so far, and has been a great support and friend. I would never have begun this project without him.

Several other friends have joined us on each trip:

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The first Art of a Hut experience:
November-December 2013

Follow the links to read about our first trip of three weeks in the Kaimais and Ureweras.

 A page from my sketchbook on the fist trip.

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The Art of a Hut Tramp the Second
January 2014

This time three more friends joined us and we had a very fast paced full two weeks in the Kawekas:

Critiquing my work!

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The Art of a Hut Tramp the Third:
July 2014

 The lastest trip was in the Ruahine Range for just a week while Caleb had a Uni holiday:

My painting of Poutaki Hut

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The Art of a Hut Tramp the Fourth:
September 2014

Whanganui National Park. A hitch hiking trip; an interesting way to travel!

The Art of a Hut Trip Four: Whanganui National Park

Goats and 1080 poison

Puteore Hut

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The Art of a Hut Tramp the Fifth:
December 2014
The Tararuas. A wet and misty place, but somewhere I must go again.

Tararua Hut Hop

Cone Hut

'Tararua Ranges' a song

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The Art of a Hut Tramp the Sixth:
April 2015
The Orongorongo River Valley: A beautiful place and a relaxing tramp  for the legs for a change!

Huts in the Orongorongo Valley: Sixth Tramping Trip

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Hut Hop the Sixth: Sailing!
October 2015
The last 'Hut Hop' before the Art of a Hut Exhibition. And a very different one this time sailing on a yacht down the coast of Northland:

Blog post and images about the last 'Hut Hop' on a boat!

* * *

   'Why not just draw them from photos?' people ask me. Well if you are going to ask that, why not just ask 'What's the use of drawing when we have cameras which are probably more accurate and so much quicker and easier!' And then I'd want to reply that 'you just don't get it!' But let me explain: drawing is an art, it is something entirely separate from photographs that you cannot really compare them. An artist captures what inspires him most about the subject and what he wants to share, he is not limited by what is in front of him, but by his imagination. The artist captures an impression of the reality, an impression of what it was like to be really there. It is far more personal, and a drawing rings truer when drawn from the real thing rather than from photos. Drawing from photos is merely copying, there is no personal attachment to it and the result is often flat, like a secondhand story. Even a quick sketch of a insignificant looking hut drawn in a drizzling rain while sitting on a rotting tree stump has more meaning and more value than a photo of the same hut in a brilliant evening light. It is the first hand experience and the story behind each drawing that counts. And in the end you have art of a much higher quality and standard than mechanical copies from photographs that don't even mean much to the artist himself.

   'Why drawings? Why not paint the huts?' Simply because I would rather draw them. I do love to paint, and will do some paintings of the huts, but I will be concentration mainly on drawing which I. There is something about simple lines on a paper that make a picture appear and the beauty of design that so love to look at and captures my imagination. I want to promote drawing as an artistic medium in it's own right and not as inferior to painting. And of course, in the bush, it will be much quicker, easier and cheaper. I'll take a few pastels, and pencils along, but my paint will be slowly going hard at home in my studio, while I'm having fun getting sooty with charcoal and graphite.

   This adventure has it's challenges. The biggest one right now is raising enough money to be able to carry out 'The Art of a Hut' project. Of course, being an artist I am quite penniless. which means we have to find supporters or sponsors for out project to make it possible. I'm working on this at the moment trying to sell art, and emailing around. I'm also planning to go down to the South Island to earn doing picking work. My main expenses will be art supplies, petrol, food.  If you can sponsor me I would be so thankful as any little bit you can donate will help.

   I would like to thank DOC for kindly donating me a years hut pass, this was a huge help for me as it makes all my accommodation free as I stay at the hut I'm drawing. Also Swazi I would like to thank for giving both Caleb and me a $200 voucher each. This was very helpful for getting some needed gear. I love my Swazi socks best, never had better!

My project has been featured on the DOC blog, and also an online magazine called Up Country asked me some questions for an article.

Before I really began the project Caleb and I were interviewed on National Radio about the project. I was able to go into the studio in Wellington for the interview. It was an exciting and scary experience. I'm not very good at talking. I sound awful, like I don't know what I'm talking about. I probably didn't back then! Anyway here is a link to the interview.


  1. Hi Felicity, I love what you're doing this summer! High-five, girl!

    1. Thank you so much! I love what you do, you are in inspiration.

  2. Great drawing of the Mangamako Hut in the hut book, a nice change compared to... well you would have seen the other art in the hut books haha.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you! Yes.... I did.
      It's awesome to hear back from someone who went there and saw it!

  3. Hi Felicity,
    I saw your drawing in the book of the Whanganui hut (including several positive comments under it). Is your project going well? Can we hope for the book some time this or next year?
    cheers, lukas

    1. I'm glad, that sounds great! It is going well, next trip planned is the Ruahine range in Hawkes Bay at the end of this month. The book will not be done until after I've finished the hut hopping. So, after next year.

  4. What a fantastic project! You might be interested in a group of 50ish private huts built between 1920 and 1980 in the Orongorongo Valley. I'm sure you'll be kept busy with all the DOC huts but if you end up in Wellington its worth having a look at a few. You can find out more here: www.orongorongoclub.org.nz. Hope the rest of the project goes well!

    1. Thank you! Wow yes, I would be interested. I have looked up the website and there looks like some really interesting huts that I would love to be able to draw.
      Thanks for sharing this.