Articulations, Mendel Art Gallery, 1984

While many sculptors, especially those working in steel, seem to be obsessed with mass and inherent characteristics of material, Bentham is concentrating on transcending such physical limitations. In these pieces he has dropped any associations with found objects, and he has rejected the concept of the ‘culture of materials’. Simultaneously, the final image owes as much to the experience of manipulating material, to adding and editing, as it does to conception, resulting in a tense equilibrium between Bentham’s will and steel’s properties. The salient point is that, unlike many artists working with a particular material, be it steel or videotape, Bentham is in control. He is not being manipulated by his material. It is this liberation which allows his work to overcome the particular in favor of the universal.

Christopher Youngs
From catalogue Essay, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, 1984


The Opens are deceptively sparse, almost to the point of being minimal. Heavy channel iron, looking very much like a frame, defines a specific section of space. Through this basic easel-like construction, a triangle base is inferred, automatically establishing a traditional three-dimensions. The framework and its attached elements sets up a surface and at the same time directs us back into the enclosed space. Whereas, traditionally, not being able to look at a freestanding work from all sides was a problem, these sculptures seem to require that problematical factor for their success. The knowledge that we could walk around them if we wanted to seems to be sufficient.

Robert Christie
From catalogue essay, York University Art Gallery, 1976


When you were saying that you want people to examine your pieces closely, perhaps psychologically, the enclosed space makes—that is, it draws—a person to the piece rather than asking him to stand away and look at it from a distance. I find these Enclosures seem to hold a secret. They draw you to themselves like any box does. You want to see inside.

Terrence Heath (in conversation with Douglas Bentham)
From catalogue essay, Glenbow Alberta Institute, 1975



The idea of sculpture as drawing in space has been central to the development of modernist sculpture from the first decades of the twenty-first century. Julio Gonzalez first articulated it in 1932, describing the “new art: to draw in space”. Gonzalez was referring retrospectively to Picasso’s early sculpture and, by implication, to the welded metal sculpture on which he and Picasso had recently collaborated. The phrase makes reference to the pictorial origins of the new sculpture in cubism, and vividly conveys the character of the open, linear constructions originated by the two artists in 1928. Building on the work of Gonzalez, [David] Smith accomplished his own radical and distinctive formulation of the idea.

At the outset of his career as a sculptor, Bentham too was occupied with drawing in space. He was aware of Smith’s insistence on the primacy of a picture plane as the basis for sculpture. The two-dimensionality and dependence on line for the spatial image, which characterize Bentham’s earliest independent works explore Smith’s idiom.

Victoria Baster
From catalogue essay, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, 1985


The Hardingham Sculptures

The Hardingham series is comprised of six monumental steel sculptures executed in 1990 at the Hardingham Sculpture Workshop at Norfolk, U.K. These sculptures were Bentham’s direct response to the stimulus provided by fourteen days confronted with British steel, hot days tempered by cooling rains, other sculptors’ provocations and his own competitive spirit. Hardingham Memory was created some time after his return to his prairie studio, and is dedicated to his friend and fellow sculptor, John Foster.

Seventeen years later, in Crossing the Pond, an exhibition shown at APT Gallery in London, UK, Bentham complemented the Hardingham sculptures with six new stainless steel sculptures from his then current Espalier series.


Bentham thinks of his working method as drawing with metal; edges and their relationships make tense linear rhythms in his work.
Karen Wilkin
From catalogue essay, Edmonton Art Gallery, l973

Ceiling Piece Trapeze



Mermaids and Monkeys