Currently on view:
Belly Scepter, as installed at Sculpture Key West in West Martello Tower, began its life during the pregnancy of my first and only daughter. A dark Bowl/Belly of laminated stone is suspended in space. Above and below this bowl-like belly, a thin form of alternating pink and buff colored stones becomes an attenuated figure-like staff/scepter/body. Crowning the scepter is a cracked oval form of black and yellow, a found object from a beach in Maine, a cast off from a lobster trap. The skeletal bottom of the scepter gives way to a decorated lower leg of alternating bands of dark and light stones ending in a foot, poised en pointe, with a polished bronze toe. A gold *linea nigra/alba bisects the Belly connecting the scepter’s upper and lower regions.
*Linea nigra, (black line) is the name given to a dark pigmented line sometimes appearing on the torso of pregnant women, bisecting the body into right and left sides and passing through the navel. It represents underlying connective tissue joining the two halves of our bilateral bodies. The linea nigra is a memory of this connection, when the embryo became a body with an inside and an outside.
“Anchor to the Stars” has traveled in space and time and accumulated meaning along the journey. The material presence, and patterning stems from a trip to Italy and the polychrome Cathedral of Sienna. Its basic color pallet, white, black, with touches of Red are a favored triad of colors that appears in all cultures throughout time when something important is at issue. The form was inspired by a pick ax that I inherited from my grandfather, sitting in the corner of my studio. I was struck by this tool, which could stand on its own and was composed of a segment of a circle supporting a perfectly vertical radius pointing to the zenith, that point of the sky directly above. The inspiration for the top most piece was from aboriginal burial poles, often topped by a pair of prongs pointing skyward as well as the great Horn of Knossos from the Minoan culture on Crete. Its first title was “Stigmata” referring to the multiple images of St. Francis arms spread, looking skyward toward his God. Stigmata gave way to “Anchor to the Stars” in an attempt to bridge my two current interests in the sea and the Firmament.
Until now, this piece has always been exhibited inside. I am pleased to exhibit it in the “frost free” environment of Key West out where it finds a place within the wonderful TSKW garden with a clear view of the firmament above.
– William Bennett
I use as my medium a very special indigenous stone called Miami Oolite, a calcium carbonate formation that makes up most of the South Florida coastal areas, including the Florida Keys. The only large, dense examples of Miami Oolite found today are the cornerstones supporting the old Victorian Conch houses in Key West. They were deep-quarried a hundred years ago in the upper Keys.
For years I have been collecting the best examples of these historic stones. As renovations of the old houses have taken place, contractors and carpenters around Key West have saved the best stones for me. The whiteness of these stones is one of their biggest assets. The surface texture of the stones causes the light to diffuse into a soft glow. I am most happy with my finished pieces when they possess a certain tension within their design.