Planes, Trains & Automobiles

These are two of six panels from a building in New Plymouth where E. Mervyn Taylor was commissioned to
make a mural. It was around 1960. Originally the Post Office, it is now an ANZ bank. In 1996 Don Driver was instrumental in saving these. Taylor completed three commissions in New Plymouth.

As a boy I came across this style of mural quite often, but notably, there was one in the Farmers
store in Auckland. It used to fascinate me, and it was a work that I saw quite often as the Farmers was somewhere we always visited on our trips to Auckland.

Later I tried to make photographic versions of this style, never with any success. More recently, I have not felt so interested.

E. Mervyn Taylor
Pataka 1947

In the entry below I’ve discussed how these wood engravings attracted my attention when I was at Primary School in Taheke, and later, in Ohaeawai in the Bay of Islands, in the Far North of New Zealand.

Published in NZ School Journals, who are about to celebrate their one hundreth anniversary, these pictures impressed me. The subject matter was so familiar, and the images charming.

This photo I took at Whakarewarewa, in Rotorua, in 1993. About 3 hours south of Auckland I had been there several times looking for this image. At the time I was particularly short of money, so a friend, Trevor Haysom, gave me the funds for the trip. Whakarewarewa is a site epecially built for tourists.

Kaka Beak

While at Primary School, one of the biggest influences on me were the School Journals, which arrived perhaps two three times a year. They were remarkable publications, filled with writing and illustrations by our very best.

One contributor whose work made a big impression on me was E. Mervyn Taylor. The woodcuts had a lot of presence I felt, like this image of a Kaka Beak, although some I liked more than others of course. I came from a home that had very few books, there was no TV then, and the two primary schools that I went to had no libraries, so the importance of these Journals was heightened.

The colour photo of Kaka Beak is one that I made last year. It’s planted it in my garden.

There has recently been a book published about his work, called E.Mervyn Taylor. Bryan James pub Steele Roberts.I recommend it. It’s an attractive book with a great deal of material about the art scene in NZ at the time.