Mervyn Taylor — wood engraver, painter, illustrator, sculptor and designer — was one of the most celebrated New Zealand artists of the 1930s to 1960s. He was highly connected to modernism and nationalism as it was expressed in the New Zealand art and literature of the period. Between 1956 and 1964 he created twelve murals for major new government and civic buildings erected in that era of great economic prosperity, during which New Zealand first began to loosen its apron-string ties to England. Tragically, some have been destroyed and others presumed lost — until now.
Festival Titling, designed in 1950 as the official display face for the Festival of Britain, is a fitting choice for the topic, both in its flavor and its pedigree. Its sharp, streamlined letters, each divided into highlight and shadow, is very reminiscent of Taylor’s murals. The other interior typefaces, Metric and Tiempos, are also appropriate as a local product, designed by New Zealand native Kris Sowersby. I can’t explain why Futura also makes an appearance when Metric would do, but, like Festival, it is period appropriate. This is a very handsomebook.