Paul Dibble: Swimmers in Space
Who are the swimmers?
Like its name suggests, Swimmers in Space shows us two swimmers in mid motion, suspended above ground. In late 1997 artist Paul Dibble was Artist in Residence at The Dowse for three months. During the residency he produced an exhibition, From Fire and Water, for the New Zealand International Festival of the Arts in February 1998. This exhibition contained both indoor and outdoor sculpture, including Swimmers in Space.
Paul says: “While working towards this exhibition many new difficulties and challenges have appeared. The outdoor works have become larger and simpler and the mixed media aspect is used sparingly (mixed media features significantly with the interior pieces). The most successful outdoor pieces are entirely of stainless steel.”
About Paul Dibble
Paul Dibble was born in Waitakaruru, on the Hauraki Plains, near Thames. From 1963 to 1967, he studied at Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours in Sculpture. At first he worked for Group architect James Hackshaw, making artwork for churches alongside his ex-tutor Colin McCahon. In the 1970s he taught art in various secondary schools, then left to take up a position at Massey University in Palmerston North. By the year 2000, Dibble gave up teaching entirely to work exclusively in his own workshop.
Dibble’s first solo exhibition was in 1971 at the Barry Lett Gallery, Auckland. He has since maintained a consistent exhibition schedule throughout New Zealand, with work also appearing in at several overseas art fairs and, more recently, in exhibitions in Melbourne and Sydney. He has produced a number of significant commissions and is represented in numerous collections here and overseas.
In 2006, in collaboration with Athfield Architects, he completed a large New Zealand Memorial sited at Hyde Park Corner in London. This work was opened on Armistice Day, with a dedication attended by the Prime Minister Helen Clark, Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of Britain, the Queen and many members of the royal family.
He was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2004 and an Honorary Doctorate, the first in the visual arts, from Massey University in 2007, and a Fellowship from UCOL (Universal College of Learning), 2011.