Bing Dawe

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1952

Still Keeping His Balance, He Used The Umbrella As A Safety Net - image of a man with missile

  • Commissioned, 1985
  • Mixed media
  • 500 x 960 x 200mm
  • 85/33
  • 1984-1985

Like many of Bing Dawe’s works, this sculpture explores the contradictions in our relationships with ourselves, others and the natural world. Still Keeping his Balance… suggests that the very idea of a ‘nuclear umbrella’ – using caches of weapons of mass destruction as a preventative shield against global warfare - is absurd. Made in the mid 1980s, it conveys the danger and tragedy of the nuclear arms race and the tightrope reflects the tension of the times. The blackened skeletal form recalls the experience of people in Hiroshima, Japan, whose bodies were burnt into architectural surfaces by the explosion of an atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. The steel grid represents the reinforced buildings torn apart by the effect of the blast. The figure is therefore presented as the legacy of humankind’s first major foray into the Pandora’s box of nuclear warfare.

Bing Dawe received a Diploma of Fine Arts from the University of Canterbury in 1976. Since 1989 he has been the Programme Coordinator for the Bachelor of Craft Design at the Christchurch Institute of Technology. In 1995, Dawe received an Arts Excellence Award from Trustbank Canterbury, and in 1999 he was the winner of Wallace Visa Gold Art Award. In 1999 a major exhibition, Acts of Enquiry was held at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery.