Artist: Guy Ngan
Medium: Painted concrete relief
Dimensions: Approx 93 m² / 1,000 ft²
Original location: Back of Government Print Building, 10 Mulgrave St, Thorndon, Wellington (work viewable from Thorndon Quay)
Architect: Ministry of Works Architectural Division
Current location: In situ. Building now occupied by Archives NZ.
Heritage status: TBC
The Government Printing Office (later Archives New Zealand) was officially opened in 1966 by Prime Minister Keith Holyoake. A project by the Ministry of Work’s Architectural Division, the build was overseen by Government Architect F.G.F. Sheppard (1959-71). Ngan worked for the division from 1956-1960, after which point he moved to architects Stephenson & Turner. It is possible he designed the work before departing the ministry.
The building has frontages on two streets that taper to a point. To accommodate this, the building is primarily a long rectangle facing Mulgrave Street with a smaller attached wedge-shaped block facing Thorndon Quay.
Ngan’s mural, with its geometric vertical elements, disrupts the horizontal, windowless length of the building, while also providing a graceful visual link between the larger building and the wedge. Taking up an entire wall, the inch-deep shapes are painted a dramatic grey and white.
In 1989 the Government Print building was sold to the Department of Internal Affairs to house Archives New Zealand.