Branding exercise

Huatoki Walkway is a cycle and foot track that follows the course of the Huatoki Stream between central New Plymouth and the suburbs of Vogeltown and Frankleigh Park.

The accessible, well-signed path blends sympathetically with lush undergrowth and tall native and introduced trees. You can hear birdsong everywhere and the stream teems with eels. In autumn, there’s a lot going on: drifts of lichen, trunks decked in bright fungi and complex structures of drying leaves. Historic sites along the way include a disused quarry, parts of an old flour mill and reminders of the Taranaki Wars, such as Marsland Hill and Redcoat Lane.

I wanted to make a typographical build to highlight the walkway’s blend of history and nature.

Process

Type built on a small scale can invite a sense of quiet reflection. A fallen leaf with a surface like aged, discoloured metal suggests the area’s history of conflict and rapid industrialisation through exploitation of natural resources. A chunky, slab-serif typeface evokes the labels once stamped on commodities like sacks of flour, crates of butter and barrels of oil. Huatoki appears reflected over the leaf blade, suggesting dual Māori and colonial perspectives on history and nature.

The letters are cut through with a scalpel after being marked out with pin-pricks through a printed paper stencil. This technique works best with leaves that have fallen naturally but are not completely parched.

I photographed this type against a range of textures along the walkway, sometimes using light, shadow and water to double the name again. Surface and distance change shapes, suggesting what has been seen once can be revisited and seen again differently.