Godwits Do Fly (2019) is the centrepiece of Dibble’s show and captures the essential aspects of the bird for which the show is named. The strong vertical bisecting the work suggests a diurnal clock or compass hand, or a signpost, upon which the godwits wait for their time to fly. With its defined top and bottom - or start and finish points - the ellipse is a fitting symbol for the 12,000 kilometre return trip made by the kuaka each year. The slice of textured bronze ocean creates a horizon that we look down at and as we do so, the space contained within the curved edges becomes an unavoidable part of the sculpture, forming a sky that reaches back through the elliptical frame.
The bronze bird forms themselves, with bandy legs and thin, curved beaks, seem a paradoxical manifestation of a creature that spends a week flying across half the world without pause. While the inherent strength of the bronze reminds us of the astonishing physical endurance exhibited by the kuaka, in Siberian Stopover (2019) Dibble draws the illusion of lightweight delicacy from the mass of cast metal using finely judged juxtapositions of line and form. This same delicate balance is also evident in the subtle rippled movement and the lifted foot of The Departing of Souls (2019), a work in which Dibble reminds us of the kuaka of myth:
Me he kahui kuaka / Like a flock of kuaka are the people at Te Reinga (1)
The birds are emblems of farewell but also of way-finding, be it for departing souls or seafarers. Ngati Awa and Ngai Tahuhu mytho-histories tell how great flocks of godwits led Kupe across the Pacific to Aotearoa; how fitting then, that the phrase “waka kuaka” is used to describe the birds in flight. (2)