All Creatures Great


Paul Dibble



  • Sculpture


  • Bronze


  • W1830 x H2600 x D400mm

Paul Dibble, ‘All Creatures Great’ (1996), Central Library, Te Papa-i-oea Palmerston North

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022


Commissioned by the Palmerston North City Council, the concept of 'All Creatures Great' was drawn from a children’s book which demonstrated the size of a whale as equal to the height of 10 elephants. On one side, the whale rises on its tail from an atrium pond, while on the other side the elephants are stacked on top of each other. These two endangered species together support a lintel, on which rests an oversized arm holding a plumb-bob. Paul Dibble has been quoted suggesting that the work is a commentary on the power mankind has over nature: the future of the world’s largest land and sea mammals lies in human hands. In this way, the work combines notions of protection, preciousness and the precarious balance of nature.

According to A. K. C. Petersen the work was commissioned by Ian Athfield for the new PNCL in 1996.[1] But Judith Paviell reported that a model had been made "[s]ome years ago" and it was this that "had been chosen by architects working on the library."[2] The sculpture is in the form of a lintel or gateway.

[1] A.K.C. Petersen, 'A lightness of being : foldings and assemblages' in Paul Dibble and Jeanette Cook. Paul Dibble. David Bateman 2001 : 72.

[2] Judith Paviell, 'Sculpture 'fits library's image',' Evening Standard, 6 Sept 1996, p1.

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