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Wintec researchers’ book takes flight

Wintec colleagues Gail Pittaway and Sarah Munro with their new publication, Lines of Flight.
Wintec academics, (from left) Gail Pittaway and Sarah Munro, with their newly printed publication, Lines of Flight. Photograph: Maddy Morris.

“I’m not a feathers person at all,” says Gail Pittaway, as we gather in the R Block Social Space on Wintec City campus in Hamilton. Pittaway is a Wintec academic and researcher by day and a writer and poet by love. We are joined by her colleague and artist, Sarah Munro.

On Tuesday 4 May the Social Space will be filled with people, exchanging kai and kōrero, as they come together to celebrate the launch of Pittaway and Munro’s recent collaboration: Lines of Flight.

Lines of Flight is a novel which mesmerises its audience with every page, combining the mythological world of poetry with ethereal watercolour paintings.

Inspired by a similar style of work she had read, Munro called on her Wintec School of Media Arts colleague for suggestions on a poet who would be open to collaboration and had a specific niche or interest in writing poetry about birds. To which Pittaway quipped in response, “Well, what about me?”

Looking through the book, it is abundantly clear Pittaway was the perfect choice as her style of poetry captures the audience - in particular the poem, ‘Swallow’, which is very poignant.

“I do want my poems to be accessible, but I also don't want them necessarily to be all over the first reading. I like them to go on several dates. I just don't like speed dating with poetry,” Pittaway laughs.

So why birds?

“Birds are such a big part of New Zealand's culture and identity,” says Munro.

“From a painter's perspective, when we think of New Zealand birds, they're often thought of as colourless, rather boring birds and I never thought that. So colour was a big, big idea that I followed [while painting].”

Munro and Pittaway have already seen how impactful Lines of Flight can be on its audience and shared some personal anecdotes.

“I’ve got this beautiful message from my 84-year-old father last night who had just been reading the book. He's coming into dementia, it put me into tears because he referred to the work that I do and the book and how it made him realise what I have done with my life,” says Munro.

“We want to make a treasure, something that people would play with and look at and enjoy. And not just shelve.”

Lines of Flight will be officially launched on Tuesday 4 May, at the Wintec School of Media Arts, R Block Social Space on Collingwood Street. Munro and Pittaway invite everyone to join them in celebration with kai and kōrero. A limited number of original prints and copies of the book will be available for purchase. 

This interview was written by Wintec third year Communication student Maddy Morris.

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