Listen: New Zealand’s Mid-Century Public Art panel talk

In 1950s New Zealand, architects made a habit of commissioning artists to make site-specific works for new buildings. Listen to panellists discuss why – and what happened afterwards.

This event was held in April 2021 as part of the Modern Living exhibition.


Dr Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is an artist, co-director of Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, and author of Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor. Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand is a research initiative based at Toi Rauwhārangi College of Creative Arts, Massey University Wellington that is seeking to recover Aotearoa New Zealand’s Public Art Heritage one work at a time.

Dr Duncan Joiner served as Assistant Government Architect (Design) for some 10 years from 1978, and has since held the positions of Inaugural Pro Vice-Chancellor for the College of Design, Fine Arts and Music at Massey University, and Chief Architect in the Department of Building and Housing, and MBIE.

Gregory J. Smith joined Wellington Arts Centre in the 1980s and later exhibited furniture with ‘Artiture’ collective in the 1990s. He is the developer, curator, researcher, and writer behind the website ‘Lost Property’, which documents the built and social history of modernist Auckland. Smith is currently working on The Lost Art: Murals and Modernism in Aotearoa, a book, and possible exhibition.

Drone image of Guy Ngan’s Bledisloe House penthouse frieze (1956) captured by Aerialsmiths, commissioned by Auckland Council, 2019