NZ lathe-cut vinyl and bespoke cover art showcased in new exhibition

12 March 2021

Curator and University of Canterbury (UC) Senior Lecturer in Graphic Design Luke Wood explores vinyl records and cover art in the radical margins of New Zealand culture for a new exhibition at the Centre of Contemporary Art (CoCA) Toi Moroki from 13 March to 22 May.

  • A Short Run

    A Short Run A Selection of New Zealand Lathe-Cut Records, installation view at Objectspace, 2019, Photographer Samuel Hartnett

Wood’s love for vinyl cuts deep. He recently set up art school record label Ilam Press Records, a research initiative and subsidiary of the Ilam Press, which is an in-house publishing workshop at the School of Fine Arts that Wood runs with his Fine Arts colleague, award-winning Design Senior Lecturer Aaron Beehre.

An interest in the potential for distributing music in physical formats in a pervasively digital future saw Wood researching material about New Zealand-made lathe-cut records for the exhibition.

A Short Run focuses on the work of Peter King. At the foothills of the Southern Alps in the late 1980s, King re-engineered a then-outdated technology, developing a new way of ‘cutting’ audio into transparent polycarbonate plastic.

Lo-fi but affordable, King’s lathe-cut records sparked an explosion of limited-edition releases from New Zealand’s innovative underground music scene. Generally produced in runs of 20 to 100 copies, these records often featured handmade cover art, liner notes, booklets, and various other inserts and modifications; audio, artefacts, aesthetics and attitudes that are practically unfeasible within the economies of scale required by the commercial music industry.

A Short Run brings together a broad selection of these releases, alongside more recent developments and outcomes of lathe-cutting record technology, and draws from the private collections of artists, musicians, bands, and small independent record labels around the country.

Wood’s broader research interests and outcomes are motivated by the rapidly expanding practices and roles of graphic design in the 21st century. Alongside Brad Haylock (RMIT), he co-edited One and Many Mirrors: On Graphic Design Education Today published by Occasional Papers (London), featuring contributions from leading international designers, teachers and academics. Wood also co-created the award-winning graphic design publications Head Full of Snakes and The National Grid.

 See CoCA for a full programme of fortnightly events. A Short Run was developed and toured by Objectspace and The Dowse Art Museum. 

For further information please contact:

UC Communications team, media@canterbury.ac.nz, Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168