E. Mervyn Taylor

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1906, d.1964

The Hollow Tree

  • Purchased with assistance from the Olive Stirrat bequest, 1983
  • Watercolour
  • 450 x 600mm
  • 83/83
  • 1951

Mervyn Taylor’s rotting stump of a once great tree is a symbol for a decaying past, a sense reinforced by the derelict farm building in the background. The Hollow Tree has much in common with the Surrealism to be found in the work of the British artist Paul Nash (1889 -1946). Taylor was born in Auckland and studied at Auckland University, Elam School of Fine Art and at Wellington Technical College. He also trained as a jeweller. Taylor experimented briefly with wood engraving in 1936 and 1937 and returned to that medium seriously in 1944, the same year he was appointed art editor and illustrator of New Zealand School Publications. Best known for his prints, Taylor also worked with watercolours and sculpture. He was elected a member of the Society of Illustrators, New York, in 1950 and had work in the ‘First International Biennale of Prints’ in Tokyo in 1957. That year he also established the Mermaid Press and published his book, Engravings on Wood.