The Garden is an artwork thematically based on the biblical garden of Eden, a reference by sculptor Paul Dibble to New Zealand as an antipodean paradise. It is a subject re-visited in the artist’s works dating from the mid ‘80s and returned to many times over the decades that have followed. The artwork features a female torso juxtaposed by a leaf falling; a slow gracious fall just landing to balance upright. The movement of the leaf suggests the passing of time with the seasons. It signifies the change in the land, the early settlers finding paradise then altering to suit their purpose by clearing and planting it.
From front view the sculpture’s forms appear monumental with full solid shapes. But when approaching from the side view they can be discovered as actually being in semi-relief with thin, delicate edges and a form lending towards abstraction. Thus, is contained the classical elements of the European notions of sculpture, yet with its South Pacific origins enacted as in the almost two-dimensional quality of canoe prows. Contrasted to this is the apple, as from the forbidden garden, modeled completely in the round and gilded.
The sculpture was originally exhibited at the Hawke’s Bay Exhibition Centre in Hastings for the 2003 Norsewear Art Award, when Dibble was guest artist. It now returns, a permanent home in Havelock North with the help of a generous donation from the Mills Family Charitable Trust.