AXIS + AXES: Graham Bennett Experimental Works

This exhibition is no longer on display at the Museum.

See experimental works by acclaimed Christchurch sculptor Graham Bennett alongside objects from the Museum’s collection that have inspired them.


Inner Space 5 (detail), by Graham Bennett.

The works on display are the products of Bennett’s experiments with new designs and materials, providing a unique insight into three decades of his practice. Many are from the artist’s rarely-seen personal collection.

Bennett’s association with Canterbury Museum dates back to the 1990s, when he began exploring the Museum’s Pacific collection with the support of Emeritus Curator Roger Fyfe, then Senior Curator of Anthropology.

Bennett was particularly drawn to ceremonial adzes made in Mangaia in the Cook Islands for trade with visiting Europeans.

For Bennett, the privilege of engaging with Pacific artefacts is to understand them and honour them as an artist. His works pay tribute to the maker’s skill, energy and artistic application.

Bennett’s installation Transfer, inspired by the skilful carvings of the Mangaian adzes, was created for the 2008 exhibition at Canterbury Museum Conversations Across Time/Whakawhiti Kōrero.

His latest installation, Disrupt, has been created especially for AXIS + AXES. The artwork’s 33 machine-shaped wooden axes with laser-cut perforations are made from introduced pine and native timbers. This work is partly inspired by poet Allen Curnow’s 1948 verse play The Axe, about the disruptive effects of colonisation and metal technology on Mangaia.

This exhibition is no longer on display at the Museum.
28 May – 31 October 2021
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