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New ‘Sculpt Nature’ Symposium to Take Place At Nelson Eco-Sanctuary This October 2022

As winter begins to thaw, Nelsonians can get ready to welcome a brand-new sculpture symposium to the region this Spring.

Sculpt Nature is a unique new offering to the national symposium circuit, and a welcome addition to the rich regional arts and culture calendar. Hosted by the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary, Sculpt Nature will be premiering as part of the Nelson Arts Festival 2023 programme. The symposium, which takes place from the 15-23 October, will focus on the use of natural materials whilst providing a new opportunity for artists interested in exploring strong environmental and conservation themes through their work.

Sculptures will be developed on-site at the Sanctuary over the course of the week.The public are invited to see the sculptors at work as their unique creations emerge – all within the setting of lush native forest and birdsong. An exhibition of the sculptures, alongside public voting and an auction, will take place upon the completion of the symposium on Sunday 23rd October – coinciding with the popular Brook Waimārama Sanctuary Open Day.

Following the initial announcement of the symposium in April, over a dozen applications have been received from both established and emerging artists across the country. Six sculptors across a range of mediums have been selected to participate in the inaugural year of the event. New Plymouth sculptors Joëlle Xavier and Donald Buglass will be travelling to the region to participate. Meanwhile, the local sculptors that have been selected are clay artist Gabi Melo, Wood Sculptor Paul Olson (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Hine,Te Aupōuri) and natural fibre artists Deborah Walsh and Sharyn Croft.

Event Coordinator Olivia Gallagher says that aside from the idyllic venue and strong focus on bringing together the arts and conservation sectors, part of what makes Sculpt Nature stand apart from other symposium opportunities is that the selected sculptors will come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds.

“We are so excited to be partnering with the Nelson Arts Festival for this initiative which brings together the arts and conservation sectors. The selection panel took care in ensuring that sculptors across a number of different mediums were represented. From clay, to wood, to eco-dyed hand spun natural fibre, Sculpt Nature will be an opportunity for connection, reflection and innovation for artists across various creative disciplines”.

The Nelson Arts Festival has a joyous history of hosting sculpture symposiums over the course of the Festival in different parts of town, from Founders Heritage Park to Anzac Park and Upper Trafalgar Street, and are delighted to bring back this much loved element of the Festival through the collaboration with the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary.

Chief executive Ru Collin says the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary extends its congratulations to the selected sculptors for 2022.

“We congratulate and look forward to hosting the sculptors selected for the first year of this symposium. We hope that Sculpt Nature will be an ongoing offering in the symposium circuit and a way for the Sanctuary to work more closely with the arts and culture sector. Sculpt Nature is a novel way for the Sanctuary, artists and the wider community to celebrate conservation in action.”

Sculpt Nature will begin on the 15th October with sculptors working on-site throughout the week. There will be free public entry between 2pm-4pm each day, followed by an Open Day exhibition and sculpture auction on Sunday 23 October. The winning sculpture will be installed along one of the main walking tracks at the Sanctuary.


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