Local artist Esther Remnant has transformed her prints into a children’s book called ‘The Fire Fox’. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Arctic tale of distance and magic


It began with a tattoo. Esther Remnant’s friend had asked her eight years ago to design a tattoo for him.

He wanted an arctic fox – an animal his then four-year-old son was quietly obsessed with. So, she did. And she liked the results.

“I got that idea in my head of this animal.”

She had been creating lino prints for several years and ended up making an entire exhibition based off the idea of a young boy and his friend – the artic fox.

That exhibition was well received, and people told Esther that she needed to turn the stories, that were etched into each print, into a book.

“I had never really thought about it, because I’m not very good with words. I had a few goes but it was terrible.”

Then her friend Mike Gwyther came into the picture. He had been best man at Esther and her husband’s wedding, but he also happened to be an aspiring writer.

The story that unfolded ended up being based off a Finnish folk tale and set around the Aurora Borealis and its seemingly magical qualities.

“I’ve always loved the idea of the aurora,” says Esther.

“It’s amazing and otherworldly, and maybe shows that a little bit of magic does exist.”

The book is populated with bold lino prints and dashes of watercolour.

When the story of ‘The Fire Fox’ was finally complete, they took it to a publisher but then, after a while, it went off the boil.

“Then this year I said, ‘no I can’t let that happen’.”

So, Esther took it to Copy Press and worked on the design with the help of several people, including VOLUME bookstore on Church St.

“They just know what a really good book looks like.”

It took five years of working on the book but, finally, a short time ago, the first copies were in her hands. “It felt good,” she says.

Since then the book has been selling well. It is in Page and Blackmore, VOLUME and Little Beehive Coop, as well as online at www.nesterprints.co.nz

Eight years after the light for ‘The Fire Fox’ was first sparked, Esther says it goes to show that a little bit of commitment can go a long way.

As for that friend, however, he never did get that tattoo.