Saturday, December 06, 2014

NZ Herald: Viva (26/11/14)

We've just received a nice notice in the NZ Herald's lifestyle section Viva (Wednesday November 26, 2014, p.6):

Seal of Approval

"I'm constantly on the look out for good art books, and Pania Press, a self-described 'bijou publisher of original literary and artistic works, in small editions' has produced some of my favourites. What I love about its publications is that there's always a special handmade element to them, whether it be the inclusion of a limited edition original artwork by the artist, a hand-sewn cover, or a clever pop-up surprise at the back of the book. With two fantastic writers at the helm of the company, the essays and verse are just as good."
- Ioana Gordon-Smith, curator at new gallery Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, 420 Titirangi Rd, Titirangi.

See for publications and to order.
Thanks, Ioana! And thanks, too, to artist Lucy Casley for her beautiful sketch.

Monday, November 10, 2014

First Fall

Pania Press is delighted to announce the launch of our latest publication: 
'First Fall' by Auckland writer Frances Kelly. 

Fran’s short story, set in Dunedin in 1866, tells the tale of Sarah Gallagher, a young woman lately arrived from Edinburgh, who is employed to help single women gain suitable work. As the story develops, Sarah, a gifted seamstress, teaches needlework skills to a group of unmarried pregnant women (described as ‘First Falls’) in the care of Mary Magdalene House. The narrative hints that Sarah herself had a baby out of wedlock, which she gave away before departing for New Zealand. 

The theme of the story, with its emphasis on needlework as a suitable female accomplishment, determined the design of the book as a quilted needle-case. 

Each copy of 'First Fall' has a unique textile token pinned to the inside cover, inspired by the foundling tokens that destitute mothers left with their babies at London's Foundling Hospital in the 18th century (you can read more about this aspect of Fran's story here).

'First Fall' publication details:
  • 60 page A6 sized digitally printed short story on 120gsm Conqueror laid paper
  • Limited edition of 50 signed and numbered copies
  • Each copy has a hand-embroidered quilted cover made from vintage silk kimonos with an elastic loop closure and a vintage button. There are five fabric designs to choose from.
  • Each copy contains a unique textile token pinned to the inside cover.
  • Price $45.00 (free postage in NZ)
Ten copies remaining as of 19 November 2014

To place an order email me at

'First Fall' was officially launched yesterday afternoon (9 November) at our home in Mairangi Bay and the event was attended by a lovely group of Fran's family and friends. Here are a few images of the launch:

Fran (left) and me in front of the display of books.

Fran reading an extract from her story

Kate Davis looking gorgeous!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I just realised that I've neglected to write a post about a Christmas publication we produced last year as a gift edition for family and friends. The 38 page book Poinsettia: A Mermaid's Tale is an incomplete fantasy novel written in the mid-70s by Jack's sister Anne Ross (1961-91).

The story is about a highly intelligent and strong-willed mermaid called Poinsettia who rebels against the strictures imposed upon women in the walled underwater kingdom where she lives. Anne completed ten chapters of the novel, which were handwritten on the pages of a 1974 diary.

It is certainly a remarkable and accomplished piece of fiction, and hard to believe that it is the work of a teenage girl. Even though Anne never finished the novel, leaving off at a point where Poinsettia has just made her bold escape, we felt that the text, as it stands, was certainly deserving of publication.

Included in the book are a few of Anne's drawings that I came across in an old sketchbook.

One of these (above) depicts a mermaid. I like to think that this is Poinsettia herself, although she is a good deal more attractive than the wild-haired, long-nosed protagonist described in the pages of the story. Anne’s mother June thinks that Anne probably couldn’t bring herself to draw an unattractive mermaid.

While I'm not certain that these images relate directly to Anne’s story, they all come from the same sketchbook with the mermaid image in it, and probably relate to the same time period when the fantasy novel was being drafted. At any rate, they make a very nice accompaniment to the text.

The book has a hand-stamped cover with shells and red dots and a seahorse stamp on the title page.

Poinsettia was published in December 2013 in a gift edition of 30 copies.


(December 25, 2015) Antigone . Poem by Jack Ross. Design by Bronwyn Lloyd. Pania Singles 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2015. Every Chri...