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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Other Way by David Trubridge

David Trubridge, whose beautiful and sustainable lighting and furniture I have long admired, has turned his hand to writing The Other Way,

In this stunning book, filled with lyrical words and exquisite photographs his love of the natural environment and his inspirational message about our need to conserve it, shines through.

The book on which he worked with designer Katie Kerr, is itself a work of art. Its cover has been off-set printed on craft paper and mounted onto board which has been hand-grooved to wrap around the book block. The title intriguingly goes 'the other way’ on the spine.

An avid traveller, he recounts journeys he has taken to far-flung places over the last 15 years including Alaska, Patagonia, The Grand Canyon, and Iceland.

Wherever he goes he steers well clear of crowded tourist spots where tourists’ interactions with the landscape are just a brief phone photo, a selfie and a tick on an bucket list.

He chooses the other way, walks in wild places where no paths tell you which way to go or how to get back, where the terrain might be treacherous and there could be a possibility of an encounter with wild animals. To roam utterly free over untouched land allows him to get closer to nature and fosters his creativity.

As I leaf slowly through his book I am mesmerised and moved by the beauty of his images and his way of seeing. It is noticeable that he eschews the vast panoramas, preferring to look more closely and to capture the colours, the textures and the changing light in the landscape.

This way of seeing came out of his experience of being on the sea ice of McMurdo Sound. Here he could have photographed the panoramic scene but felt that the mountains and ice cliffs would be distant and reduced to trivia. Suddenly he spotted an exquisite white feather snagged in filigree ice. This was the moment he realised it was the intimate details of a place, not the distant view, that draws him in and is the best way to tell a story about a place.

Visiting Antarctica also raised his awareness about global warming and persuaded him to become a more active environmentalist.

In the Australian desert all his sense came into play. He writes:

I eat under the stars by a campfire, sleep on the ground in a swag. I hear the empty sound of space.

I know the crunch of rock under footfall, how the stone grates roughly on my skin. The rock is not only red; it is every colour. I see jagged white flints, yellow strata, black knobbly rock, blue stones, glittering crystals, crumbling sediments, encrusted limestone and purple quartz.

I feel the grass, soft and feathery, the prickle of hitch-hiker seeds, the savage spikes of spinifex.

The last chapter of his book is about his journey to Tamatea/Dusky Sound, a wild empty region accessible only by boat . On his first journey the blinding white ice of Antarctica had surrounded him, here he is drawn to its impenetrable counterpart, the blackness of the waters in Fiordland, Aotearoa. They speak to him of the Māori creation story in which blackness is fecund and full of potential.

Tamatea is where the first Europeans landed. They brought with them a colonial mindset that nature is a resource which is there for us to exploit -indeed that it is our God given duty to do so’.

This attitude was diametrically opposed to that of Māori who have a deep respect for and close connection to nature.

Ko au te whenua , te whenua ko au- I am the land and the land is me.

And it led to such much harm.

But in the valiant conservation efforts being made there now by many volunteers in very challenging conditions, to preserve the few remaining threatened species of birds, he sees a massive ray of hope.

This book is so much more than a fascinating travelogue and beautiful photographs. It is a book with a purpose. As an ardent conservationist and climate activist David Trubridge hopes it will make us stop and look at the world more closely, to see its beauty, and ignite our desire to look after it.

Reviewer: Lyn Potter

Trubridge Press


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