Nelson-born Graham Bennett's work is a paean to the human navigating spirit. His sculpture - from the massive eternal horological observatory outside Christchurch Art Gallery to the more intimate works on display in Signal - use wayfinding and navigation as their primary inspiration, specifically the tools of the trade, the technological developments which have aided humans over the centuries in their seemingly endless quest to reach the next horizon.
This journeying is not just physical through space and time, but also metaphorical. We are searching for a way forward, a way clear of the social and environmental woes which we have brought upon ourselves.
The instruments presented in Signal - sextants, railway signals, and semaphore flags - are those used for choosing pathways through dangerous straits, for alerting to peril, and for relaying vital information. These are tools understood by experts, but mere cyphers to the majority. Yet in order to work through our troubles, we need to interpret and take heed of the warnings.
Many of Bennett's structures are strong yet delicate, their graceful forms reflecting the orange-segment gores of maps. The crossbeams are tethered but straining for balance. The allusion to a delicate world out of balance is no coincidence. Neither is the suggestion in other works that we have been treating the world as if it were out own plaything, a tin-plate train set for adults.
Bennett hints at the interconnectedness of nature - conserved momentum, cause and effect, balance and tipping point. Where once science looked to invention to gain mastery over nature by some neo-Pagan suggestion that naming was controlling, now we turn to the same science to prevent our overthrow and to help us regain balance.
Bennett's sculptures invite us to look at ourselves and ask "what have we done, and what is our way forward?"