Leading NZ Sculptor

Paul Dibble, acclaimed creator of the New ZealandDibble 6

Memorial in London`s Hyde Park

By Jan Lowe
12th November 2009

Dibble 4The leading New Zealand sculptor Paul Dibble, who created the New Zealand War Memorial in London`s Hyde Park, has a joint exhibition with his wife at the Mahara Gallery, Waikanae.

Paul Dibble’s sculptures have a distinct New Zealand influence -combining Pacifica and Maori representation, with folk art and European Modernism.  The result is an interesting and diverse display of small and large bronze sculptures  – the tui, Maori  shapes and designs and tuatara on trees.

His use of realist and surrealist imagery creates further depth and interest, as seen in the rabbits sheltering under giant lips.

Many of Dibble`s works are not solid but have open shapes. He quotes British sculptor Henry Moore as saying that negative spaces are as important as positive spaces and this is evident throughout Dibble`s work.

Dibble 1The orange wall of kiwiana collected by Paul and Fran Dibble over many years, has been specially constructed from the Dibbles home for this exhibition.

Dibble works from his foundry in Palmerston North and says each sculpture takes him about two months to complete. “A lot of thinking time goes in before I start”, he says.

Most pieces are made in miniature first, than adapted to their final size.

His most important work, the New Zealand war Memorial in London, was officially dedicated on Armistice Day, 11.11.2006, by Queen Elizabeth 11. The War Memorial marks the relationship between New Zealand and Britain in wartime and peace. The monolithic structures stand on a hillock in London`s Hyde Park, with the columns strategically placed so that they leave a three dimensional area to walk through. At least six of them have lights on top creating a Southern Cross in the evenings.

Dibble has many other sculptures throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The Long Horizon sculpture, weighing more than a ton, made headlines in local and national news in 2005, when it was stolen from outside Swill restuarant in Waikanae.

The sculpture was later returned and Paul Dibble`s profile as a creator of large bronze works with a New Zealand spirit was firmly established.

He was awarded an honourary Doctorate in 2007.

Fran Dibble, an American born Dibble 2author and artist has degrees in both Biochemistry and Botany –areas that are rich in inspiration for her art works. The gap between science versus art has narrowed and become more integrated now.  “It is the marrying of science and sentiment,” she says.

Her interest in nature and love of texture, form and detail are evident in her paintings. Which are lineal in design and interspersed with panels of floating circles, leaves and flowers, both real and surreal. Her inspiration comes, she says “from the simple phenomena of the everyday quiet wonders but with vivid and poignant reminders of the beauty of the ordinary”. Each panel of the mosaic is done individually and then  assembled together. Fran Dibble often does not know how the finished work will look.

The ocean also influences her ideas – she has a collection of urchins, starfish and sea eggs. A sea horse, found at Golden Bay, was moulded and cast in bronze. She uses a mixture of spray paint, oils and bronze for her art and she works in the foundry and her home in Palmerston North.

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