The Story of a New Zealand Truck Driver
Book review by Trevor Agnew
The Story of a New Zealand Truck Driver (2014) Mary Kelleher, Handmade Histories, fold-out mural, NZ$39.99
This picture book is an amazing and original achievement. Mary Kelleher has used embroidery and collage to create a fold-out mural, depicting Bert Williams, whose regular truck service around the bays of Banks Peninsula earned him the nickname of ‘Night and Day’ Williams. As well as hauling bales of wool to the Pigeon Bay wharf, Bert also carried fruit, bags of cocksfoot seed, manure, drums of petrol and tins of kerosene.
On one side of the mural is a neatly embroidered (and perfectly readable) verse account of Bert’s exploits:‘Day and Night Williams, you’re shifting honey bees?’
I truck anything; bees or rope or cheese.’
The embroidery and patchwork pictures also carry an array of dinky trucks, meccano, tools and vintage illustrations, with a line of buttons showing Bert’s route. I have seen the original collages and the photographic versions in the book do them full justice.
The other side of the mural is a more formal but equally lively historical background, with photos and reminiscences of a truck driver’s life between the wars. On an accompanying CD, David Parker sings and reads the text.
Note: This review was first published in Your Weekend magazine (Fairfax NZ) on 7 March 2015.
Full publishing details:
The Story of a New Zealand Truck Driver (2014) Mary Kelleher, Handmade Histories, fold-out mural, NZ$39.99 ISBN 978 0 473 28703 0
[Handmade Histories: 3 Sailrock Drive, Mangawhai Heads 0505, Northland, NZ