Artist: Guy Ngan Title: Untitled Medium: Acrylic Dimensions: 1.3m³ (4ft cube) Date: 1972 Original location: Wainuiomata Shopping Mall, 18 The Strand, Wainuiomata, Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt Architect: Stephenson & Turner Current location: Missing Heritage status: None known
Having already mastered a range of paint, wood, concrete, and metal media, Guy Ngan elected, in the early 1970s, to turn his artistic hand to a new material: plastic. Wainuomata Shopping Mall became the home of his only known public sculpture in acrylic.
In 1972, a designscape article recorded Ngan as considering himself to be ‘Playing around with plastics’, stating that he was not completely satisfied with the results.
Little is known about this work, or its fate. Please contact us if you have any information.
Artist: Guy Ngan Title: Untitled (Worms Mating) Medium: Concrete, paint Dimensions: H4000mm x W3600mm x D2700mm Date: 1976 Original location: Eastern Hutt Rd Roundabout, Stokes Valley, Te Awakairangi Lower Hutt Architect: n/a Current location: In situ Heritage status: Collection of Hutt City Council [Asset No. 40247.01]
Commissioned by the Stokes Valley Jaycees, Ngan’s sculpture was constructed by Greg Ross in 1976. Originally untitled, Ngan told the Hutt News in 2011 “I thought if I gave it a name, that’s all that people would remember. I wanted them to remember the shape.” Ngan further explained that, years after the sculpture was completed, the daughter of the family doctor said “Uncle Guy, I saw your worms mating.” He loved the description, and it stuck.*
Originally rendered in bare concrete, the sculpture has now been painted white.
A second mating worms sculpture is located at Stokes Valley’s Scott Court shopping centre shops. Titled “Elevating Worms”, and rendered in stainless steel, Ngan was commissioned by the E Tu Awakairangi Public Art Trust to create it in 2011.
Artist: Guy Ngan Title: Untitled Medium: Linoleum Dimensions: Approx. H5400mm x W6400mm Date: 1959 Original location: Naenae Post Office, Hillary Court, Naenae, Lower Hutt Architect: Walter Frederic Charles Vine, with Gordon Wilson (Supervising Architect), Ministry of Works and Development Current location: Presumed destroyed Heritage status: No known protection
Mid-century New Zealand was marked by the end of both the depression and WWII. An urgent need for housing struck the country and inspired the government to implement a plan to construct thousands of houses. Lower Hutt was one beneficiary of the plan and several suburbs—and their respective community centres—sprung up including those of Epuni, Taita, and Naenae.
Designed by Viennese émigré architect Ernst Plischke, Naenae’s Hillary Court opened in 1954, with the Naenae Post Office as the centrepiece of what may have been New Zealand’s first pedestrianised shopping mall.
The design of the Post Office building was handled by architect Walter Frederic Charles Vine, under the supervision of Government Architect Gordon Wilson. During this time Guy Ngan was employed full-time at the Ministry of Works Architectural Division as a design consultant. In this capacity he was invited to to create a site-specific work for the main public-facing area. Hon Michael Mocham, Post Master General, laid the foundation and opening plaques. The contractor was J M Construction, and the building was officially opened on 4 December 1959.
This artwork is unique in Ngan’s oeuvre as it is the only known linoleum work he completed (most of his public murals and sculptures were constructed from concrete, aluminium, and tile); it is a colourful work (also rare for his public artworks); and it is the only known two-dimensional public artwork that Ngan made for the Hutt Valley. Linoleum was a popular mid-century flooring product, created primarily from linseed oil, albeit with traces of lead. Highly durable, it was applied in a range of commercial and domestic settings. Renowned as a thrifty creative, it is possible that Ngan made this mural from offcuts of linoleum.
The Naenae branch of the Post Office closed in 2016, however the mural had already disappeared by this time, possibly when additions, alterations, and general “redecoration throughout” occurred to the building in 1984.