E. Mervyn Taylor Print "Magical Wooden Head"

E. Mervyn Taylor Print "Magical Wooden Head"

Print Code: 10394

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Woodcut (Modern re-print)

Print size in millimetres: 480 x 610

Released in late 2020 this print is one of the first series of large scale modern re-prints of prints by this leading NZ print-maker. Printed on Hahnemuhle German etching paper that is 310gsm, 100% Cellulose, acid free, archival paper. The study of Māori mythology provided E Mervyn Taylor with a rich source of subject matter. Magical wooden head is based on the legend of a tohunga (priest), Hakawau, who challenged a carved wooden head that could cause death to anyone who gazed on it.

Taylor’s early training as a jewellery designer and engraver honed his ability with expressive line, and this skill is perfectly demonstrated in this accomplished work. The finely detailed image creates a sense of tremendous energy and infinite space within a limited area. Taylor emphasises his mastery of the craft of wood engraving by drawing two straight lines diagonally across the image. These lines connect the eyes in the head to the figure of the tohunga in the lower right. They are essential to the fullest expression of the mythical story, and are beautifully integrated into the whole design, neither dominating nor distorting the composition.

In 1952 Taylor included Magical wooden head in his successful application for the Association of New Zealand Art Societies Fellowship. The recipient was usually required to travel overseas, but he used the funding to stay at Te Kaha on the east coast of the North Island, studying Māori life and customs from within Te Whānau-ā-Apanui. Taylor also promoted Māori myths and legends through his own private press publications and through his position as art editor and illustrator for the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education.