“Born and bred in New Zealand, Neil Dawson is a sculptor of international standing. All of Dawson’s works emphatically echo aspects of this nation’s socio-cultural environments and, literally, elevate these in spatial celebrations that are at once accessible and challenging. A central achievement discernible in this sculptor’s work is his ability to embody in pure space, clusters of socio-cultural and global concerns.” (1)
Working for the last 40 years as one of New Zealand’s foremost creators of public sculpture, Neil Dawson’s laser-cut, steel sculptures appear to defy gravity and the weightiness of the medium. Both his large and domestic-scale sculptures possess ever-shifting perspectives as each co-opts the space and light in and around it, playing visual tricks with shadow, perspective, and volume. The fine detailing evident in many works is drawn from sources as diverse as porcelain patterns, building materials, and flora and fauna.
From Christchurch’s Fanfare (northern motorway) and Chalice (Cathedral Square) and Ferns in Wellington's Civic Square, to Raindrops in Manchester, United Kingdom, and the Globe in Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, Neil Dawson's public artworks have become city icons. Dawson’s Spires, a work of local and national significance, was installed above Latimer Square in Christchurch in 2013. Referencing the spire of the Christchurch Cathedral, destroyed in the earthquake on February 22nd, 2011, Spires provides the opportunity for private reflection and, at the same time, acts as a signifier of a defining moment in the city’s history.
Born in Christchurch in 1948, Neil Dawson gained a Diploma of Fine Arts (Honours) from Canterbury University in 1970, and a Graduate Diploma in Sculpture from Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts three years later. He was awarded an Arts Laureate by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand in 2003 and in the following year was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Neil Dawson’s public works can be seen in places as varied as Shanghai, Canberra, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Manchester, and he continues to exhibit regularly in both New Zealand and Australia.
1. Dr Cassandra Fusco, “Ways of Seeing Presence and Absence: The Work of Neil Dawson”, Crafts Arts International, No. 58, 2003.