The Constructions 1991–1993

In 1990 Jenny and I went to Japan. I had been aware of the influence Japanese art had on Van Gogh and Whistler, but was unprepared for what Japan might do to me. I became fascinated with the Japanese appreciation of surface and texture which demonstrated itself in so many ways. When we returned I was determined to explore these qualities.

I have always been a beachcomber and my studio was full of my findings. I began to assemble bits and pieces, combining found material, painting, wire sculpture, photos etc. The early pieces were flat but they soon became more three dimensional.

Margaret Scott, the poet, opened the exhibition of these works and wrote a beautiful poem to accompany the pieces.


To Paul Boam.

I came in out of the dark to the warm house
where soup purred on the stove and there-there-there
windows opened through wings, the bones of boats, abraded wood
on shorelines, exalted skies, engulfing seas –
the world as you must see it, looking back
imbued with all your living, peopled by you
the “I” within the poem.
You have opened, delivered up the places where you walked
stooping to gather feathers and button-grass,
a sheaf of delicate bones, the core of something
long dissolved in water.
You have painted your own face-a bronzed Neptune
with sea-salt white in your beard
and the counterpart, the little tumbled figure
more frail than the curled shell of The Sea Exults.
Tracing your path I think I know the name
of the long skeletal head and the savage beak
that tears the gentle wren.
I know the cry of the struggler in the water
and the ageless beat of the waves that ride him down.
Yet names and cries are not what you have fashioned.
Your grammar of paint, your wire and paper rhythms
show how the colours of bone and splintered timber
wind in the rope that reaches the drowning man,
how the wren’s blue sleets on the hungry ocean
and glows in the sky where the great sea eagle soars.
You have not said that something strikes a balance
but have lived it, crafting the fragments of your days
to a marriage of shapes and colours, textures, tones.
All these, defining light by the presence of darkness,
unite in a gift, a welcome, a resolution.

Margaret Scott