Magic in the mountains


ILLUSTRATOR Cait Mack has brought to life mythological creatures she imagines living in the country’s mountain ranges and lakes.

The University of Cambridge graduate, 24, hopes her new book of original drawings and paintings, Mountains and Mountain Creatures, will help people be more thoughtful about the environment.

The mythology and short stories accompanying the illustrations focus on what type of creature would live in the particular environments.

“Most of my work at university and after was environmental-based, looking at environmental policy through the economic sphere,” Mack says.

“I found myself getting detached from my environmental surroundings and seeing them in more of a consumerist way.

“For my own sake I wanted to reconnect with the magic of nature.”

Creatures featured include a giant octopus named Dophini, a griffin-type creature named Ukai, and Matas, a beast with characteristics similar to a dragon.

The Remarkables, Mt Cook, Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Taranaki and Mitre Peak are all drawn in the book.

“It is a really light-hearted idea but it is also about trying to bring back that magic to those places.”

The creatures have become so real for Mack she has to think twice when she looks at the landscapes again.

“Now I just think these creatures actually do live in the mountains,” she jokes.

“I went up to Lake Alta just before the snow really set in and I was a little bit scared when I was up there because I got to the lake and could imagine the octopus being there.

“That is exactly what I wanted to feel when I did it because that was the magic I wanted to find there.”

Mack says she tries to remain positive about the natural world, despite people not rushing to change their habits to help it.

“I do think with every generation that’s coming through there is more awareness and more openness to changing habits.

“I do hope those generations coming forward can initiate more change than is happening at the moment.”

Travelling to New Zealand from the UK last year after completing her degree in law, economics and history at Cambridge, Mack relished the opportunity to explore the country in all its mountainous glory.

On her journey, she became inspired by the diverse landscapes.

“One of the main inspirations was a book called The Lost Words, which is a huge book of poems and illustrations.

“It shows how kids are so disconnected now from their natural environment.”

Mack sees illustration as her main creative output and wants to work with a creative writer in the near future.

Copies available at Bound Books and Records in Church St, Queenstown, or from