E. Mervyn Taylor

b. 1906d. 1964

E. Mervyn Taylor was born in Auckland. As an artist and designer his work has made a significant contribution to the emergence of a distinctly New Zealand language of art and design. He is primarily known for his wood cuts, engravings and illustrations – particularly for the New Zealand School Journal. However he also completed twelve murals and building decorations towards the end of his career, in both public buildings and publicly-accessible commercial sites.

He was one of the most celebrated New Zealand artists of the postwar period (1930s-1960s) and is remembered fondly by many New Zealanders for his wood-engravings in the New Zealand School Journal. He was closely connected to modernism and nationalism as it was expressed in the New Zealand art and literature of the period.

Between 1956–1964, he created twelve murals for major new government and civic buildings. These were erected in an era of great economic prosperity, during which New Zealand began loosening ties to England. Tragically, as documented in the book Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor (Massey Press, 2018), some murals have been destroyed and others are presumed lost. Eight murals remain, three of which are ceramic tile murals.

Portrait of E. Meryn Taylor, courtesy Estate of E. Mervyn Taylor.