What is significant?
The Newspaper House Mosaic was designed by Napier Waller in 1932. Waller was the leading neo-classical mural painter of the period. The mosaic was commissioned as part of a new facade for the original 1884 building. The new facade was designed by architects Stephenson & Meldrum for the Herald and Weekly Times Limited, who had recently acquired building. The theme of the mosaic was suggested by Mr. Theodore Fink, a director of the company, with the text, 'I'll put a girdle round about the earth'. The mural is read from left to right and in the classical style celebrates technological advances in the progress of mankind. It is located at first floor level and is affixed to slate panels fixed to the brickwork with copper dowels. It is in three sections divided by two windows. There are only two other mosaics by Napier Waller, who studied, lived and worked in Melbourne - one in Temple Court, Collins Street and the other at Monash House, William Street.
How is it significant?
The Newspaper House mosaic is of aesthetic significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Newspaper House mosaic is aesthetically significant as a rare example of the use of wall mosaic for decorative purposes on the facade of a Melbourne building. The fusion of art and architecture to this extent is rarely apparent in a commercial building in Victoria. It is a superb example of Napier Waller's calm classical style.
Napier Waller lived and worked in Melbourne for all but a few years of his creative life. The last forty years were concentrated on monumental works; mural painting, mosaics, stained glass. He is not as widely known outside Melbourne but has other important works in Canberra and Perth.
Waller's work was firmly classical, and stands apart from more familiar artistic movements in Australian art. Waller's visions of an heroic past inform his use of classicism, bit he also drew upon his belief in a utopian socialism and the teachings of William Morris and Walter Crane to celebrate the work of the craftsman and the artist's responsibility to society. This responsibility was translated into his mural art. His murals include the Melbourne Public Library and the T & G Building, both in 1928 and the Myer Emporium Dining Hall. Waller also worked in stained glass, a material he became interested in from about 1951.
Associated People: Theodore Fink