My Blue Peninsula

04 November 2006 - 10 June 2007
Te Papa Tongarewa / Museum of New Zealand
New Zealand

Project commission for Te Papa Tongarewa
Curators: Natasha Conland & Charlotte Huddleston

Also exhibited:
27 July – 7 October 2012
Peripheral Relations: Marcel Duchamp and New Zealand Art 1960-2011
Adam Art Gallery, Wellington
New Zealand

Curator: Marcus Moore


  • 16 foot Chincoteague Skiff plans purchased via internet from Selway Fisher (UK);
  • Hoop Pine marine plywood, American White Oak, Douglas Fir, Maple, Macrocarpa, epoxy resin & glues, fibreglass cloth, marine paint, stainless steel fittings, steel centre plate, aluminium mast and boom, sails, compass, anchor light;
  • Cast concrete supports, tie downs, sand bags and ballast.

Project lead construction: Graham Hoyte
Assistants: Kim Paton, Gary Bridle
Site Engineer: Brian Moore
Designer: Warren Olds, Studio Ahoy

Supported by
Te Papa Tongarewa / Museum of New Zealand
Massey University Wellington
Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University, Wellington
Toi Aotearoa / Creative New Zealand

With thanks to
Paul Selway, Graham Hoyte, Marcus Moore, Brian Moore, Tina Barton, Anna Sanderson & Charlotte Huddleston.

My Blue Peninsula was a temporary commission for the sculpture terrace on the rooftop of New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa Tongarewa. The building is situated on Wellington’s waterfront, overlooking a boat marina, the port and harbour beyond. The city is known for its windy, changeable and sometimes fierce weather. One of the conditions set by the museum was that nothing could be attached to the building directly, but the artwork was still required to withstand exposure to gale winds.

Maddie Leach purchased a set of boat plans via the internet from British naval architect Paul Selway. He had designed a five metre (17-foot) ‘Chincoteague Skiff’ for a boatbuilder named Tom Dunderdale who wanted a design based upon the 'V' bottomed skiffs used on the Atlantic Coast side of the Virginian Eastern shore “for tonging and crabbing…with a reputation for speed and seaworthiness.” Dunderdale never pursued his project and the boat built for My Blue Peninsula remains the only realised example of Selway's design.

Leach spent nine months constructing her boat, working closely with local cabinetmaker Graham Hoyte. Neither of them had any previous boat building experience. The boat was built according to specification, fitted with sails and made ready for sea. It was then transported by truck, lifted by crane to its rooftop position, and held in place with strops and ballast on cast concrete supports. It remained on the museum roof for seven months.

The boat was not given a name. However, the project title was borrowed from a poem by Emily Dickinson:

It might be lonelier
Without the Loneliness—
I'm so accustomed to my Fate—
Perhaps the Other—Peace—

Would interrupt the Dark—
And crowd the little Room—
Too scant—by Cubits—to contain
The Sacrament—of Him—

I am not used to Hope—
It might intrude upon—
Its sweet parade—blaspheme the place—
Ordained to Suffering—

It might be easier
To fail—with Land in Sight—
Than gain—My Blue Peninsula—
To perish—of Delight—