Eileen Mayo, Painter/ Designer
National Library of New Zealand, PO Box 1467, Wellington, $29.70
The inspiriting exhibition of Eileen Mayo’s work in the National Library Gallery is matched by this impeccably produced and stylish catalogue, which faithful to its subject has a typographical assurance and élan of its own which will undoubtedly make it a future collector’s item. Eileen Mayo, now in her eighties and living in seclusion in Christchurch, is the kind of artist any country would be proud to adopt. Particularly renowned as a printmaker, she has also designed posters, postage stamps, a cover for Landfall, woodcuts and engravings of a rare intensity. She inherited a gift for recording the natural world, her eventual tour-de-force in this field being her monumental The Story of Living Things and their Evolution of 1944, 300 pages of text and over 1,000 illustrations. All her work is characterised by detailed and loving observation which flows into her paintings as readily as it does into the absorbing sketches for her postage stamps. The Eileen Mayo exhibition will be making a national tour later this year.
[John Mansfield Thomson was the founding editor of New Zealand Books.]