Joanna Margaret Paul

Portrait of the Marlborough Sounds VII

1981
watercolour on paper
597m x 795mm

signed JMP and dated 81 in graphite; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery label affixed verso

Provenance

Collection of Helene Quilter, Wellington.

Exhibitions

The Helene Quilter and Tony Chamberlain Collection, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 1998.

Collections

Previously on long term loan to the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, 1998–2014.

Essay

When Joanna Margaret Paul died in an accident in 2003, she had been working for nearly four decades as an artist and poet. Her friend, the poet Bernadette Hall, described her as...

Read full text
Estimate $500 - $1,000
Achieved $703.50

Joanna Margaret Paul

Portrait of the Marlborough Sounds I

1981

watercolour on paper

inscribed Portrait of the Marlborough Sounds 1 in graphite lower edge; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery label affixed verso

597mm x 795mm

Auction N˚4

Estimate $500 - $1,000

Achieved $703.50

Footnotes
  1. Bernadette Hall, “Bread for Isaiah: Joanna Margaret Paul,” brief 32 (2005): 55, 60.
  2. Quoted in Gregory O’Brien, Lands & Deeds: Profiles of Contemporary New Zealand Painters (Auckland: Godwit, 1996), 68.
  3. Peter Ireland, “A shape to part the space: Joanna Margaret Paul 1945-2003,” Art New Zealand 108 (2003): 97.
  4. Joanna Margaret Paul, foreword to Joanna Margaret Paul: Chronicle/Chronology (Wanganui: Sarjeant Gallery, 1989), 5.
  5. Quoted in Joanna Margaret Paul: Chronicle/Chronology, 6.

Portrait of the Marlborough Sounds

by Jill Trevelyan

When Joanna Margaret Paul died in an accident in 2003, she had been working for nearly four decades as an artist and poet. Her friend, the poet Bernadette Hall, described her as “complex, intense, a woman of faith, a romantic, a feminist though she would eschew the term, a fighter.” Hall described the “singular, unconventional” focus that Paul brought to her art: “Joanna had energy to burn when it came to matters touching her ideals, her integrity and her loyalty, her love.”¹

Although Paul was highly respected as an artist, much of her work was never exhibited during her lifetime. Including paintings, drawings, photographs and short films, Paul’s practice was intimate and exploratory in nature, hardly the type of work to attract attention in the late twentieth-century art world. Moreover, Paul herself was almost perversely self-effacing, once describing herself as “aggressively in support of the ‘minor.’”² Any idea of self-promotion was abhorrent to her.

Paul’s art is strikingly distinctive in tone and sensibility. Peter Ireland has described the world she portrays as a “Cézannesque world of unstable sensations without the comforting certainties of belief and ideology.”³ Like Cézanne, she was fascinated with the nature of perception: “How we see what we see . . .  the subtle changes of colour or linear direction yielded to an intent gaze, and then what happens when one turns one’s head—never cease to interest me. The visual world is inexhaustible.”⁴ Paul was drawn to the ordinary and the everyday, finding a poetry and beauty in things that anyone else might overlook. It is this radiant attention to her surroundings that is Paul’s most defining quality. Each work is a new beginning, a fresh take on even the most familiar subject.