Previous Exhibitions

May 2023: Paul Dibble - "The Lost Garden"

Welcome to the garden where kowhai bloom and huia flock, drinking nectar in a secluded wonderland.

This is a land of abundance, a banquet, a world restored; sculpted by Paul Dibble in bronze, with opulent floral showers of gold.

Dibble’s garden recalls a lost paradise; a place where huia frolicked and kowhai flourished; a time of plenty, when life was simple and nature was undisturbed by human activity.

Huia and kowhai are both iconic symbols of myth and reverence. The kowhai, with its miraculous sudden flowering on leafless branches, is like an act of divine power. One myth has it that the flowering was created by a Māori god as a challenge to win a lover’s hand – Aotearoa’s own Olympian feat.

Huia feathers, stored carefully in waka huia (carved treasure boxes), were once worn as a sign of rank and mana.

But the excitement of beauty can come at a cost. A fascination with huia spurred demand for its carcasses and tail feathers, driving the species to extinction.

Dibble’s recreated paradise, for all its splendour, anticipates this looming loss.

In "Huia Sings Alone" a single bird perches on a branch sparse of blossom, the base of the sculpture suggestive of an abandoned island.

Gold glitters as bauble and huia balance trophy-like on rings.

For all its beauty, Dibble’s restored garden of plenty is really a solemn statement about greed, mistakes and loss.

“The Lost Garden” by Paul Dibble runs until 28 May. If you're in Palmerston North this month, come take a look - gallery hours are 11am to 3pm Thursday to Sunday.