2021 -Revisit – Heide : Museum of Modern Art


Maquette for Scales 1987

balsa wood, synthetic polymer paint  and ink stamp

This balsa maquette for Scales (1987) encapsulates Rosman’s concept for this outdoor sculpture which is constructed primarily from reinforced concrete. A small tower-like structure of upside down crates at one end of the sculpture represents the artist’s childhood whilst, at the other end, a taller structure represents adulthood, showing a series of stacked “crates” or layers of growth of the man from childhood. At ground level, a concrete rounded beam connects the two towers the work’s overall design thus evoking the idea of ‘scales’.

In the finished sculpture, the ‘childhood’ tower contains casts taken from toys; the tower leans awkwardly (a ‘bent childhood’ Rosman describes it) a reference to his education ( his secondary school had no art classes, and taught the “plumb pudding” idea of the Universe ) and this appears to sink into the ground, ‘as recollections of the past recede’ the artist explains [Conversation 30/11/2012]. The taller adulthood tower is filled with cast crates containing assorted objects and bits and pieces collected by the artist in his studio over time, these are arranged inside the concrete crates. The conduit connecting the two structures represents the events and influences occurring between these two stages in the artist’s life.

Though not evident in the maquette, a number of images are visible in Scales along the length of the connecting line that reference grassroots political activism (of the kind in which the artist was involved at that time). These images are found on the discarded zinc printing plates from The Age Newspaper, transferred by the artist  and embedded into the work. The rounded shape of this conduit or pipe is also a reference to printing drums used to print newspaper headlines etc.

In the maquette we see Scales as it was originally constructed, with the front panels ajar so that viewers could easily see inside. When later re-made due to damage, the artist closed these panels to reduce ,public interference with the work.

Maquette for Scales complements an earlier maquette by Rosman already in the Heide collection.  A proposal for the Sculpture Park in 1983, the sculpture was never realised, titled “Stupa Domesticus” and is referenced to his study of Asian Architecture at Melbourne University. A model of the work was later completed in WA during an eventful Artist in Residency.

The artist’s ink stamp “Terminal Artworks” is evident on the maquette. This is the name of a Website by Peter Rosman of his work that can be accessed at www.anywhere.com.au. The stamp was added in 2012 and is found on all his work.

The sculpture Scales remains where is was originally sited, near the lower end of the Kitchen Garden and not far from Dennis Oppenheim’s sculpture (at that time the only other work nearby).