Guy Ngan: National Bank Gisborne, 1969

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Pacific Voyages (Cook Bicentenary Mural)
Medium: New Zealand timber and bronze, mounted on cork
Dimensions: Approx. 5.6 square metres (60 sq ft). Exact dimensions unknown
Date: 1969
Original location: National Bank Gisborne Branch, 31-35 Gladstone Rd, Tairāwhiti Gisborne
Architect: TBC
Current location: Held by a private collector in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Heritage status: TBC

This work was the result of Ngan winning the 1969 National Bank Mural Award: his second win in a row after his successful entry into the 1968 competition which resulted in the work “Habitation” being installed in National Bank’s head offices in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.

Installed in October 1969 as part of the Cook Bicentenary celebrations, the mural depicts the paths of Cook’s voyages around the Pacific. A timber map sits on a cork background, and a coin-like bronze medallion depicting Cook presides over the scene.

As reported by The Gisborne Herald on 7 October 1969, the judges commented “This artist again reveals his outstanding ability to produce a forceful design tempered with elegance and charm.” 

Guy Ngan: National Bank Head Office, 1968

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Habitation
Medium: Wood and cork wall sculpture
Dimensions: Approx. 6 square metres (65 sq ft). Exact dimensions unknown
Date: 1968 (building opened in 1970)
Original location: National Bank Head Office, 170-186 Featherston St, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, CBD
Architect: TBC
Current location: Ngan noted the work as being “destroyed” in April 2000
Heritage status: n/a

This mural was the result of Ngan winning the 1968 National Bank mural award. He won again in 1969 and 1971.

Guy Ngan: ANZ Queen St Branch, 1964

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Q & V Mural
Medium: Glass mosaic tiles
Dimensions: Approx. 244 square metres (800 sq ft). Exact dimensions unknown.
Date: 1964 (elsewhere dated 1960, but the building opened in October 1964).
Original location: Rear wall, banking chamber, ANZ Bank, corner of Queen & Victoria Sts (203A Queen St), Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland CBD.
Architect: Stephenson & Turner
Current location: Unknown, possibly painted over.
Heritage status: n/a

Ngan’s large mural design for the ANZ Bank Queen St covered a two-story high wall in the public banking chamber. It was also his final public artwork executed in mosaic glass tiles.

A geometric mosaic tile mural featuring bands and rectangles in greys, with orange and yellow accents, 1987

Guy Ngan: Broadcasting House/Bowen State Building linkblock, 1957

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Untitled
Medium: Mosaic tiles
Dimensions: Approx. 12m in length
Date: 1957
Original location: Broadcasting House and Bowen State Building linkblock, Pipitea, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Architect: Gordon Wilson, Ministry of Works Architectural Division
Current location: Destroyed
Heritage status: n/a

Guy Ngan’s mosaic tile mural for the linkblock between the Bowen State Building and Broadcasting House was designed and completed at a similar time to the Bledisloe State Building.

As Ken Davis notes, “Both the Bowen State Building and Broadcasting House were designed to form an architecturally harmonious whole and were separated by a sunken court and then linked by a canopy and mural faced wall. The mural consisted of abstract patterns of brightly coloured ceramic tiles and seemed inspired by modern abstract art.”

Colour-blocks in a range of greys, yellow and orange filled an entire wall and provided a backdrop for generous plantings.

Sadly, this work is no longer. Broadcasting House was demolished in 1997, and it is likely this mural was destroyed at the same time.

A geometric mosaic tile mural featuring bands and rectangles in greys, with orange and yellow accents, 1987
Image: Ken Davis, 1987

Guy Ngan: Bledisloe State Building Penthouse, 1956

Artist: Guy Ngan
Title: Untitled
Medium: Glass mosaic tiles
Dimensions: North & south faces: H3000mm x W6500mm; east and west faces: H3000mm x W12600mm.
Date: 1956
Original location: Penthouse, Bledisloe State Building, Bledisloe Lane, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland CBD
Architect: Gordon Wilson, Ministry of Works Architectural Division
Current location: In situ. Building now occupied by Auckland Council.
Heritage status: Considered item, listed by Auckland Council

Guy Ngan’s mosaic frieze for the Bledisloe State Building was completed in 1956. An advertisement from the time states that “the mosaic tiles were supplied and fixed to this penthouse tower by the skilled tradesmen of the wall and floor tiling division of J. H. M. Carpenter Ltd of Newmarket, Auckland.”

This mosaic later inspired artist Julian Dashper to create his painting Guy Ngan Mural, Bledisloe State Building, Auckland City, 1987. On the topic of this work, Dashper said: “I found Ngan’s mural interesting for a number of reasons – partly because as a kid my Dad worked in the building and so every Friday night I’d go and goof off in the building with the big mural – I was aware then that it was a big piece of art – an enormous work.” (Source: unknown. Copy included in Guy Ngan: Scrapbook number one. Auckland: Ron Sang, 2010, p.41).

Milan Mrkusich: Chelsea House, 1960

Artist: Milan Mrkusich
Medium: Glass mosaic
Date: 1960
Original location: Chelsea House, 85 Fort Street, Auckland
Current location: In its original location
Heritage status: None at present however there is an information plaque located next to the work

Milan Mrkusich was commissioned to design a mural for the lobby of Fort Street’s Chelsea Sugar Refinery Building, known as Chelsea House. In 1960, as a response he created a large-scale mosaic mural. Mrkusich’s dynamic mural features an abstract arrangement of blocks of brightly coloured glass mosaic tiles. The full-height mural follows the undulating curve of the interior wall.

The mural was later covered up by an internal false wall. In 2016 Chelsea House was redeveloped and the mural was uncovered. It is now prominently displayed in the building’s foyer and visible from the footpath. The owner has also installed a plaque with information about the artwork and artist in the foyer.