With Squaring the Circle Graham Bennett is simultaneously exhibiting two major inter-related bodies of work that continue his exploration of place and its link to identity. This is a multi-layered investigation. It is about both physical and intellectual journeys - voyages, navigations - and the actual locations reached. The exhibition thereby contains a provocative dialogue about the historical and contemporary responses to place that define cultural identity - society’s interpretation and perspective is derived from experience, expectation and aspiration.
Graham Bennett’s sculptures explore environmental issues, interfacing with technology and human modifications to the landscape. They allude to changes both physical and cultural, addressing “our sense of place and time and, in particular, our inclination towards movement.”(1)
Geography, time and pattern play a key role within Bennett’s sculptures. He utilises strong geometric structures with vertical, horizontal and diagonal repetitions to create a rhythmic musicality, which engages both a sculptural and cultural language. Relief devices evoke Pacific flower and tapa cloth motifs. Curved crescent forms reminiscent of celestial navigation and boat or sail delineations suggest a voyage through the pacific, a journey through history, geography and the narrative of time. He explains that New Zealand “is a set of long, narrow islands, there is a close relationship between land and sea, between town and country, between journeying and the reasons for this.” (2)
Bennett’s structures and surfaces are physical expressions of his philosophy. They are “a scaffolding for meaning and seeing, narratives of the land…markers & thresholds.” (3) He makes use of local materials and adapts the shapes, motifs and patterns of the Pacific to create his own vocabulary of signs and symbols. In this way he skilfully develops an evocative narrative based on migration and belonging. (4)
1. Dr Cassandra Fusco, “Of Time And The Oceans,” World Sculpture News, Winter 2004, p. 22-29
3. Graham Bennett, “Reasons for Voyaging,” an interview with Felicity Milburn, Robert McDougall Art Gallery Bulletin, Winter 2001
4. Gina Irish & Ruth Harvey, Squaring the Circle: New Work by Graham Bennett, Exhibition Catalogue, Milford House Ltd, 2006.