For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the Artist
Bing Dawe (born North Otago, 1952) is acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s most prominent sculptors, his work strongly driven by a deep concern for the environment and human impact on it, especially the damage caused unthinkingly to creatures often overlooked, like eels, small fish or birds overlooked or wrongly believed to be common or safe from threat. He graduated from the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts (Ilam) in the mid 1970s, and has exhibited extensively throughout New Zealand and overseas – well over forty solo exhibitions including a major survey exhibition at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in Christchurch in 1999. He has won numerous awards including the prestigious Wallace Visa Gold Award in 1999.
Beautifully painted studies in acrylic & oil on paper add another layer of insight to Dawe’s exquisite sculptures, finely crafted commentaries on New Zealand’s rare, vulnerable and sometimes overlooked wildlife.
His Galaxiidae series features the tiny fish also known as ‘stargazers’, hence the constellations in the hemispheres and circles of the sculptures. These kokopu include those harvested young as whitebait, vulnerable particularly to degrading water quality in our rivers and dramatically reduced flows caused by irrigation and electricity generation. Wickedly curved steel wires imply a threat, whether direct (hunting, traps) or indirectly (the wires of electricity generation for instance). He lays down a challenge regarding their presence and impending absence in the positive sculpture vs negative space in these beautiful elegant works.
Dawe is well known as a champion of little-loved, often-loathed eels, using his art to highlight the fact that these creatures are struggling for existence as waterways are dammed and diverted for agricultural irrigation and electricity generation, with no facility for the eels to return to their upriver breeding grounds, no way to avoid the traps. Now, the peril facing the eels is more widely recognised, and Dawe must take some credit for raising that awareness in decades of work focused on the humble eel.
More About the Artist
Bing Dawe’s work is represented in many public and private collections, both in New Zealand and overseas, and he has completed public commissions for all the major cities in this country.
Dawe also influenced subsequent generations of sculptors while tutor and Programme Co-ordinator for the Diploma of Craft Design (now Bachelor of Design) at the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. Throughout his career, he has explored political and environmental concerns both global and local, through finely worked sculptures and paintings which invite an intense connection on an aesthetic level.
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