New Zealand – Diary

Katja Schmitt New Zealand Drawing

New Zealand, 14 December 2017 – 12 January 2018. My sister Birgitta and I had the great fortune to spend a month in New Zealand and explore this beautiful country.

Would you like to experience this with me again? I’m posting a diary of our adventures.

New Zealand was almost like a childhood dream for me. I wanted to go there ever since I finished school, and that was in the early nineties…. It’s hard to describe what this trip meant to me – and still means! I had a really difficult year, and the memories, the pictures helped me through many a dark hour.

While we were there, I really wanted to write and send pictures every day, but the abundance of impressions and the amount of our activities – the sheer scope of the experience – meant that I only managed a couple of Instagram posts. And to be honest, I don’t know if I would have found the words back then either, I was quite overwhelmed at times…. it’s still hard for me even today, but luckily I have my art.
Nevertheless, this year I got to the point where I wanted to tell the story, and that’s how my art-book came about. It definitely helped me through the chemotherapy.

But I always wanted to combine paintings, photos and texts and publish it all on my website. And now is the time. Do you want to join me?


I will be working on this post throughout the next four weeks, adding the links to photos, anecdotes and the paintings that came into being as a result of this journey.

Some background on this picture:

In 2016, when we decided to make this journey, I drew an experimental map of New Zealand, added a quote by Leonard Cohen that was important at the time, because he had died a few days before that, and posted the result on Instagram. There was an immediate reaction, and the drawing soon had a new home! (It got siblings which resulted in what I call „Cartographer’s Art“)

I could never have guessed that we would find a bench in Wellington dedicated to Cohen with that very quote on it:

There is a Crack in Everything

That’s How the Light Gets In.

And then, of course, it was particularly moving to listen to a recording in the museum in Christchurch of Cohen reciting the poem with the poppies:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields