Artist Ken Kendall had a great public profile in Masterton and was well-liked and highly regarded as a master sculptor. He exhibited and worked on commissions all around the world and the local council commissioned him in 1999 to sculpt two of Masterton’s leading pieces of public art: Russian Jack, the well-loved swagman, in the Library Square and Joseph Masters in Queen Elizabeth Park. Kendall always kept strong links to Masterton and in 2018, nearly six years after his death, Lady Helen Wilkins donated four bronze sculptures to the Collection of Aratoi.
inspiration for the ANZAC series came from Kendall’s first attendance of an ANZAC Day ceremony. He recalls in his own words,
“Unlike an old school friend, Dave Arnold, who religiously went to the annual ceremonies, I had never attended an Anzac Day parade. Dave went every year to the Auckland Cenotaph for the dawn parade to commemorate the soldiers who fought and died in the two world wars. Something kicked me out of my lethargy and I travelled south to Carterton, near Masterton. There was a Scottish pipe band performing and the side drummer shifted her sporran round to cover her behind and as she marched, it flicked from side to side — unforgettable! The ceremony was conducted in a small park and I was charmed and deeply touched by the way they did it….
I made several bronzes consisting of groupings of people with flags and marching veterans and the small cenotaph with wreaths attached. I cast each piece with one, two or more figures in my foundry, in one of the sheds on my new property. They all turned out well. They were displayed briefly at Aratoi, the Wairarapa Museum of Art and History. Bronwyn Reid, an assistant at Aratoi, set them out beautifully, and her covering title was ‘The Way We Are’, which hit the nail on the head.”
Exert take from A Bronze Affair by Ken Kendall and Helen Wilkins, 2018
There are four of Ken Kendall Bronze sculpture from the ANZAC series in the collection of Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, gifted by Lady Helen Wilkins in 2018.