Volunteer Diaries: Paul's Mosaics

Paul’s Mosaics – told by his daughter, Sarah

Like many young CQ boys, Paul was educated at home by his mother to start with, progressed to being a boarder at St Patricks in Emerald and completed his secondary schooling at St Brendan’s in Yeppoon. He decided he wanted to become a veterinary surgeon in order to be able to help on the farm. At school they said he didn’t have the aptitude for this and besides he was colour blind and had failed Latin. To prove them wrong he retook his final year and succeeded in getting into Veterinary Science at the University of Queensland where he did very well indeed.

After a spell in Papua New Guinea, Paul joined the staff at UQ teaching Vet Science and it was not long before he was offered a scholarship to do his PhD at the University of Cambridge in the UK. He set off on the high seas beginning a lifelong habit of extensive travels and equally extensive photography.

In Cambridge he worked hard and played hard and in the holidays repeatedly travelled around Europe with his friends – initially on his Vespa, though he soon took to a Morris Minor for better comfort. They went all over and Paul’s eye was increasingly drawn to the mosaics adorning the palaces, churches and ruins they visited.

With a new wife and a PhD, Paul returned to Australia and UQ where he again taught Vet Science. It was not long before he decided to teach himself Spanish in order to take up a position teaching Vet Science at Mexico University. So off he went to Mexico City in 1967 and his family soon followed. Here he had another son and his eye was drawn to the mosaics yet again.

From Mexico he joined the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and the family moved on to Bolivia for five years, then Uruguay for several years. Paul was then called to serve at the FAO headquarters in Rome where he remained for the rest of his career. At this point his interest in mosaics really blossomed as did his photography and his travels which took him all over the world as he coordinated projects to control and eradicate ticks and tick borne diseases. He took his latest mosaic projects with him on his travels as something to do in his down time in far flung nooks and crannies of Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Far East. He even bought them back to Australia for his holidays!

Many mosaics are made of marble or glass, as these are both durable materials, which come in many colours, though today all sorts of things are used in mosaic making. One of the most famous marbles is that of Carrara in Italy and Paul’s family were lucky enough to visit the Carrara quarry to see how the marble is quarried. Paul’s family went on regular holidays around Italy for many years searching out particular marbles and mosaics to admire, although these trips were known to the children as “Hell’s Tours…”

So the answer to how a CQ boy took on mosaics, seems to be Paul’s keen powers of observation and patience developed as a scientist initially, and honed through constant travel and a passion for photography. It is a fortunate hobby too because his work will endure due to the materials he used. Not a bad effort for a colour blind lad from Emerald and quite an achievement given his workload, travel and family commitments – not a little determination and dedication was needed too.