The Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival’s 20th anniversary exhibition, to be held over 16 days from 10-25 September, promises to be the biggest and most successful yet.
One of the oldest and largest sculpture exhibitions in rural NSW, the festival has overcome the recent flooding of the historic Wollombi village to curate a stimulating and diverse range of works, from large to small and serious to whimsical. It also includes a number of exciting new features.
The 155 finalist works by local, regional, interstate and international sculptors will displayed throughout the lush green valley, in six indoor galleries, two vineyards, around Wollombi itself and at the neighbouring hamlet of Laguna.
The festival is not-for-profit and run entirely by volunteers, with strong support from the local business community. The team has still managed to offer more and larger prizes than ever before. First prize is $25,000, with other prizes ranging from $7,000 for the Indoor Prize to a $250 voucher for young sculptors.
This year the festival is thrilled to offer a new prize sponsored by the Governor of New South Wales, Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, who has agreed to become Patron of the festival. The winner of the Governor’s Prize will have their sculpture displayed in the sculpture walk at Government House for the following year, offering valuable exposure and provenance.
‘What transforms a collection of works into a festival of works is a deliberate and sensitive curation,’ the Governor said. ‘As we viewed the works in 2020, it was as though every piece had been specifically sculpted for its exhibition space. Yet we know that same piece will take on a different life in a different place. Truly the wonderment of art!’
Another new prize is a new multi-session online mentorship for emerging artists offered by Newcastle Art Gallery, providing essential advice and tips for navigating the art world.
This year the festival will also be offering free tours for school groups . Aiming to foster the next generation of sculptors, the schools program will include a worksheet provided in advance to enhance the sculpture experience, a 90-minute guided walk, and talks from some of the sculptors.
The winners will be announced at the festival opening on Saturday 10 September by MC and sculpture fan Simon Marnie from ABC Radio Sydney. The exhibition will then run over two weeks and three weekends, with all works available for purchase. Many of the unsold larger outdoor works will remain in place until the following year.
PHOTOS IN BANNER – FROM THIS YEAR’S FINALISTS
- Ingrid Morley’s Keeper protects the vulnerable world of her local Jenolan Caves area, which combines European mythology, ugly local secrets and monumental beauty, and challenges stereotypical perceptions of the feminine. Ingrid’s 25-year practice involves working with metal, clay and found objects.
- Don’t lose your grip by sculptor, painter, art conservator, former Mental as Anything bass player and Wollombi local Stephen Coburn references the dangers of the winding road through the Wollombi valley, beloved of motorcyclists.
- Cockatoo by Michael Le Grand is an investigation of curvilinear form, in homage to Australia’s iconic sulphur-crested cockatoo. Working in steel and involved in many high-profile arts events, Michael was Head of Sculpture at the Australian National University School of Art and is now an Emeritus Fellow.