17th October – 1st November 2020

For its 18th year, the highly acclaimed cultural festival, Sculpture in the Vineyards, is coming back to Wollombi, a charming historic village situated in the lower Hunter Valley.  Ranging from sophisticated, modernist art works set against a backdrop of hillsides and valleys, to whimsical and often ephemeral works specifically designed for the vineyards, the exhibition celebrates contemporary sculpture in all its forms.

Stella Downer, the renowned Sydney art dealer, with the collaboration of four vineyards, was instrumental in bringing the exhibition in Wollombi in 2002.  Now an institution on the Australian calendar, from small beginnings it’s grown to a million-dollar affair which attracts thousands of visitors to its 16 day show at Wollombi.  The Festival’s Director, Susan Leith-Miller, is thrilled with the number and quality of 2020’s entries, in what is the longest running regional outdoor sculpture exhibition in Australia. This year, 166 works from 103 sculptors have been selected for the exhibition from the 300 national and international submissions received.  This year’s selection includes seven previous Sculpture by the Sea major prize winners; Peter Lundberg, Paul Selwood, Jorg Plickat, Michael le Grand, Stephen King, Libby Bloxham and Harrie Fasher. Other highly respected artists include Stephen Coburn, Ron Robertson-Swann, Ayako Saito, Peter Tilley, Louis Pratt, Fiona Kemp, Hui Selwood, James McCallum and Robert Barnstone who won the major prize in 2019. Emerging artists, Amanda Lockton and Daniel Schwartz have also been selected again this year.

This year, there will be a $20,000.00 First Prize, a $6000 Indoor Small Prize, a $5000 Highly Commended Prize and a $1,000 prize for the best work by a local sculptor.  All prizes are non acquistional.

With over 50 years combined experience, Art Critic and Lecturer John McDonald will be joined by Sarah Johnson, Curator at Newcastle Art Gallery, to judge this year’s Sculpture Festival. 

Last year the First Prize was awarded to Robert Barnstone for Gene Rosa, the Indoor Prize went to Peter Tilley for Transient Entity and Amanda Lockton won the Acquisition and Local Prize for Lost Language.  There were $1.3 million worth of sculptures for sale and art sales reached over $120,000.  In 2020, there will be $2.5 million worth of sculptures available for sale.

Leith-Miller is the driving force to gather the public and the private sectors behind the 2020 project with the Wollombi Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Wollombi Valley Arts Council and collaborating with local businesses and residents.

For 16 days, the local community – volunteers and residents – will be highly involved in this regional festival.  A daily program of talks and visits has been designed for visitors.

The spectacular sculptures are located at Undercliff Wines, Stonehurst Wines at Cedar Creek, Great Northern Trading Post (GNTP) at Laguna and in the village of Wollombi itself.  The selected works will be on display and for sale in five indoor galleries and public spaces; the Old Fireshed Gallery, Blender Gallery, Wollombi Community Hall, GNTP and  The Old Dance Hall which is also the Visitors Information Centre.

The 18th annual sculptureinthevineyards(link) will run from 17 October to 1st November 2020.  Exhibition opens daily from 10am to 4pm. All venues will operate under COVID SAFE regulations.

All works are available for purchase. 

A 2 hour tour will run each day at 10am from the Tennis Club (Opposite St Johns Church)
$10.00 per person. Children under 12 free.

Entry to Sculpture in the Vineyards is free.

Susan Leith-Miller – Director,
Sculpture in the Vineyards, Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival.

Susan Leith-Miller has been the director of this artistic project since 2019. 

Leith-Miller has been a social entrepreneur with accomplished expertise in fundraising and branding.  She launched the Orange Ribbon Campaign, now Harmony Day, a pro-multicultural movement which was a response to the racist rhetoric of Pauline Hanson. Leith-Miller was also a business mentor on the Government program, New Enterprise Incentive Scheme and was appointed EO of the Blue Knot Foundation (ASCA) in 2006.

She then moved to The Big Issue NSW.  As NSW Operations Manager she introduced a new sales system that the organisation took up nationally and she successfully developed fundraising initiatives that are still being used.  In 2019 she was invited to be the Director of Sculpture in the Vineyards and took the event to the next phase. She rebranded the event which is now known as Sculpture in the Vineyards, Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival. This rebranding lead to increased community support and increased funding which in turn attracted both established and emerging artists.

Wendy Black – Curator,
Sculpture in the Vineyards, Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival.

Wendy Black is an accomplished sculptor and a talented curator.

She studied theatre wardrobe at Wimbledon Art School, worked as an advertising and book illustrator, and on moving to Australia in the late 80’s discovered her passion for sculpture.

She was taught and mentored by Tom Bass and has continued her strong relationship with the Tom Bass Sculpture Studio as a senior teacher.

As a practising sculptor she has undertaken public commissions for the University of Queensland, and contributed figurative sculptures to Cootamundra and Sunbury Council as well as many private commissions.

She has also been a finalist in the North Sydney Art Prize and Tom Bass Prize and won the ‘Peoples Choice’ at several public festivals of sculpture.

From 2014 – 2020 she curated at the Clara Street Gallery in Erskineville as well as the biannual Tom Bass Prize 2016, 2018, 2020. With her recent fulltime move to the Wollombi area, she has curated the Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival in 2019 and 2020.

Press contact:
Susan Leith-Miller
Tel 0403 270 365