Perry Martin Hill—Mason Handprints

print 1
print 2

The P. Martin Hill Wallpaper Collection includes twelve different William Mason Handprints. William James Mason (Napier 1919–1994) is possibly the most well-known New Zealand wallpaper designer. He studied art at Goldsmith's College, and textile printing at the London Central School of Art and Craft (late 1940s).[1] Following his return to Wellington, New Zealand in 1950, he exhibited paintings at Helen Hitchings' gallery (1951), and at the Architectural Centre's Centre Gallery (1951 and 1954).[2]

Mason won both first and second prize in the 1961 Festival of Wellington competition for wallpaper design. He taught art at Wellington Girl's College in the early 1960s,[3] and set up a hand-printed fabrics business with his wife Maureen Mason (nee Innes-Smith). In 1965 they began produced hand printed wallpapers. The Masons sold the business in 1974 to Resene Paints. Mason handprints decorated overseas embassies in Canberra, Djakarta, and Singapore, the New Zealand suite at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel.[4] As Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins has noted, Mason's striking use of colour, and his use of late nineteenth-century Victorian imagery was an astute engagement with Modernism and the domestic architecture of New Zealand where his clientele lived: "the old Victorian and Edwardian homes of the inner cities, then undergoing rediscovery by a new generation of city dwellers."[5]

Wallpapers in the collection include:
Galat 315; Lucia 430, 424; Minorca 203, 205; Papyrus 344, 354; Parkvale 401; Polka 206; Tosca 460.

Mason handprints are also held at the Hawke's Bay Museum (Napier), the Dowse (Lower Hutt), and Auckland War Memorial Museum (Auckland). Information on William Mason is also available at the Alexander Turnbull Library (Wellington), Te Papa Tongarewa (Wellington).


  1. Lloyd-Jenkins 40 legends of New Zealand design 101; Mason handprints 12.
  2. Mason handprints 13.
  3. Mason handprints 16.
  4. Lloyd-Jenkins 40 legends of New Zealand design 102, 104.
  5. Lloyd-Jenkins 40 legends of New Zealand design 103.


"William Mason - Mason Handprints" Applied Arts Collection, Auckland Museum.

Brown, A. (1998). Wild patterns brightened homes. Daily Telegraph. 9 Sep 1998. (pp. 14). Napier, New Zealand.

Lloyd-Jenkins, D. (1998). Off the wall. New Zealand Home and Building. Oct/Nov 1998. 6. (pp. 43-44).

Lloyd-Jenkins, D. (2006). 40 legends of New Zealand design. Godwit. (pp. 101-104). Auckland, New Zealand.

Lloyd-Jenkins, D. (1998). At Home: a century of New Zealand design Mason handprints. Ins by

Lloyd-Jenkins, D. (Eds). Hawke's Bay Cultural Trust. Napier, New Zealand.

Lloyd-Jenkins, D. (2006). New Zealand at Home dir. Dan Salmon. MF Films Ltd. Auckland, New Zealand.

Skinner, D. (1999). A dedicated follower of fashion: Mason Handprints at the Hawke's Bay Museum. Art New Zealand. Autumn 1999. 90:76-78, 86.