Author(s): Bronwyn Holloway-Smith
Mervyn Taylor - wood engraver, painter, illustrator, sculptor and designer - was one of the most celebrated New Zealand artists of the 1930s to 1960s.
He was highly connected to modernism and nationalism as it was expressed in New Zealand art and literature of the period. In the 1960s he created twelve murals for major new government and civic buildings erected in that era of great economic prosperity, during which New Zealand first began to loosen its apron-string ties to England. Tragically, some have been destroyed and others presumed lost - until now.
This fascinating book, bursting with archival material, details the detective hunt for the murals and tells the stories of their creation. They cement Taylor's place as one of New Zealand's most significant artists, and are a celebration of the art and culture of our modernist era.
Ernest Mervyn Taylor was a brief but prolific artist during a period of growing national prosperity. Like Colin McCahon, Taylor's heroic murals can be described as monumentalist but ironically, that would be to sell him short. Taylor's oeuvre encompassed sculpture, paintings, carving and etched-glass windows – as well as the public murals. After an informative introduction the author edits twelve scholarly essays by prominent artists, writers and heritage professionals. Beautifully bound and illustrated, this book provides a fresh perspective on New Zealand history as told through a visual lens. The images stand alongside text-based accounts of their subjects. Making a living as a full-time artist in mid-century New Zealand was not easy but Taylor managed it by way of sheer skill – and modest requirements. The artist felt in touch with things, large and small, birds, trees and flowers. He fell in love with the landscape and this book is a fine tribute. Mike
Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is an investigative artist and researcher based at the Massey University College of Creative Arts in Wellington. She lives in Island Bay with her civil union partner and their three children. This is her first major book publication.