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Fishing for modernity: E. Mervyn Taylor’s murals

Artist and designer E. Meryvn Taylor (1906–64) is known for creating works that play with international modernist styles, while remaining grounded in the particularities of Aotearoa and the wider Pacific. Towards the end of his career, he produced more than a dozen murals and building decorations, including Te Ika-a-Māui (1961), a tiled work commissioned by the New Zealand Government to mark the completion of the Tasman portion of the Commonwealth Pacific Cable (COMPAC), a major undersea telephone cable system.

Te Ika-a-Māui was rediscovered in 2014, as a result of investigations by artist Bronwyn Holloway-Smith into COMPAC’s successor, the Southern Cross Cable (which is the subject of the artist’s contribution to Pacific Real Time). She subsequently launched the E. Mervyn Taylor Mural Search & Recovery Project, with the aim of researching and documenting Taylor’s public artworks, and advocating for their restoration. In this talk, Holloway-Smith will discuss the Project, including her work cleaning and digitising Te Ika-a-Māui, with Pacific Real Time assistant curator Francis McWhannell.

Image: Te Ika-a-Māui assembled at the College of Creative Arts, Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, November 2015.



Mezzanine, The Cloud