• Paul Dibble

Birds have long been associated by humans with the ethereal. Appearing globally in lore as omens and symbols, they act as airborne messengers traversing the corporeal and incorporeal worlds. Flowers too have historically been ascribed a symbolic meaning, regularly employed in art and literature to express a hidden narrative, or gifted as traditional expressions of love and loss. The metaphorical significance of the two might seem tethered to the past – yet our contemporary world abounds with birds and flowers used as emblems for cultures, countries, and companies. But what happens when we lose the icon itself? "The Poignancy of Absence", Paul Dibble’s exhibition of new sculptures, considers the impact of extinction on our cultural ecosystem, and presents a eulogy to New Zealand’s own lost fauna.

The sculptures in "The Poignancy of Absence" feature native New Zealand birds atop branches, their bills suggestively in reach of New Zealand’s iconic Kōwhai flower. Like a caricature, Dibble’s birds are instantly recognisable though greatly abbreviated, as they have been condensed down to their lively essence: the fan-like spread of the Pīwakawaka’s tail, the elegantly curved bill of the Huia, and the long straight tail of the Tui, referencing its direct flight.

Dibble’s bronze is patinated a sombre brown, which offsets the 24-carat gilding of his Kōwhai, akin to the riotous dumping of yellow in the otherwise uniform New Zealand bush. Kōwhai are our national herald of Spring, bursting into flower and providing nectar for our native birds. Once included in a poem lamenting the loss of New Zealand’s flora and fauna by statesman William Pember Reeves, the Kōwhai in Dibble’s sculptures are a lively celebration of their endurance. Much like a bouquet of flowers gifted to express condolences, Dibble’s gold flowers become gestures to the birds they accompany: a rally cry to conservation, and a lasting tribute to our New Zealand ecosystem. - Gabriella Stead, 2018

Opening Hours

  • Monday - Friday 10am - 6pm, Saturday 10am - 4pm


  • Corner Kitchener and Wellesley Streets,
  • Auckland, 1010