Artist Profile

E. Mervyn Taylor

Born 1906, Died 1964

Ernest Mervyn Taylor, when he died suddenly at the age of 57, was at the peak of his creative activity. He had excelled as a wood engraver, painter, illustrator, sculptor and designer combining his skills and talents with infinite patience and integrity.

Several aspects make Mervyn Taylor an extremely important and interesting artist. He was known and respected internationally, he was committed to producing solely indigenous subjects and he was one of the first New Zealand artists to make a successful living from his art without teaching.

Born in Auckland in 1906, Mervyn Taylor was involved in the advertising industry in the early days after having served an apprenticeship in jewellery engraving in the 1920's. Just before the war, he began to freelance as an artist-designer and then joined the Department of Education as an illustrator and art editor. He had shown an early interest in painting and, as in his other work, his attention to detail and strong design elements were retained in his watercolours and ink drawings. A tree for instance not only possessed strong form and colour, but could be identified as a particular species.

In 1958, as a guest of the USSR Ministry of Culture, he was invited to hold a one-man exhibition in Moscow. The collection of some 100 works was toured throughout the country and he was at that time described as a master of wood-carving and engraving, and as a great modern graphic artist.

Mervyn Taylor believed that the function of the artist was to make the viewers aware of their surroundings, and his love of the New Zealand landscape portrayed in his work, showed his emotional involvement with his subject.

His work is held in public collections throughout New Zealand and in private collections all over the world.

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