Commissioned by SCAPE Public Art in 2001 and sited to float above the stairway in the former Christchurch Boys’ High School in The Arts Centre, Bing Dawe’s Out of the Black Water was damaged by the February 2011 earthquake, but has been lovingly been restored by the artist and reinstated in the same location.
Dawe recognised the merits of its location back in 2001, and also twenty years later, generously repairing the wood and steel sculpture Out of the Black Water now back where it belongs. On its initial installation the artist was interviewed by The Press’ arts editor, Christopher Moore and Dawe commented: ‘The site is a good one. I have been working with wall and suspended pieces. This is a good site because you can eliminate many of the potential problems caused by people touching the work, or vandalism. It’s a good size with a lot of viewing points from below and the sides.’
The eels in Out of the Black Water have been a key subject and theme in Dawe’s art for more than three decades, a reference to Ōtautahi pre-colonial settlement when its marshlands were abundant with eels, as well as his interest in drawing attention to our responses and engagement with the natural world, the distance, intimacy and necessity of such relationships. In 2021, the questions and issues that Out of Black Water bring to mind and represent have a greater sense of urgency, highlighting issues around endangered species and the impact that humankind continues to insistently have on the environment.
DETAILS AND IMAGE
Bing Dawe, Out of the Black Water, 2001, kauri and steel, stairway, old Christchurch Boys’ High School Building, he Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, 2 Worcester Boulevard