'A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion' : the meeting of poetry and history : an exegesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Fine Arts at Massey University, Wellington, New Zealand
I never met my great grandfather, Frank. He died decades before I was born. Consequently, the image that
I have come to hold of him is not a memory, but a construct; crafted through the combined forces of an
established history, memory, fiction, and my own bias.
There are very few definite facts that I can attribute to Frank’s memory. I know that he was born in Patea,
and attended a Catholic boarding school in Wellington. He fought during the First World War, serving in
Egypt, Gallipoli and the Western Front, and was wounded three or four times, depending on the source. I
have been told that he loved poetry and had many books. And there is a story that he once caught two of
his children, my grandfather and his older brother, carving their initials into the side of a public building.
He told them that the names of mugs were written on plaques everywhere.
My humble collection of details holds but a minute fraction of the memories that have arisen from Frank’s
life. As in all of history, there is much of Frank that has been lost to time, and my picture of him is littered
The artwork discussed in this paper, For Us There is Only the Trying, has essentially been made in
response to my experiences with the elusive memory of my great grandfather, and the history that serves
as a backdrop to his life. My artwork therefore deals with Historyi and memory, however, my aim is not
to comment upon, or uncover the past, but to reveal one’s experience with that which is indistinct and
uncertain, and the poetry that surrounds these concepts.