|Rebecca Holmes discusses the work of Ludwig Mlcek. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|
Sculpture in the Vineyards is an annual sculpture festival taking place in the Hunter Valley's picturesque Wollombi. The team from Sculpture in the Vineyards joined the Near and the Elsewhere for a chat about this years exhibition.
For those who don't know, what is Sculpture in the Vineyards?
Tara Morelos (Co-Director): Sculpture in the Vineyards is an outdoor exhibition of large scale and site-specific sculpture held each year in November in the Wollombi Valley. The exhibition continues for a month in the historic village of Wollombi and across several family-run boutique vineyards. I have been involved since 2006 and have seen the exhibition develop and grow into a festival of activities with a gala opening, artists closing picnic, bus tours and workshops for young people. Also of note are the twilight tours of ‘the map site’ at Finchley in Yengo National Park, led by Aboriginal guides from local cultural organisation, Ngurra Bu. The map site is a rock-engraving site used by Aboriginal people for thousands of years in traditional lore and ceremony.
|Elissa Jane Smolinski, Holubic. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|
What sets it apart from other sculptural parks such as McClelland?
Todd Fuller (Co-Director): There are a lot of sculpture events popping up all over the country but Sculpture in the Vineyards definitely has some unique qualities. Our event brings together food, wine, people and great art. Each venue offers something different to the next meaning that we are essentially four different exhibitions in one. We work hard to foster a sense of community in our artists and facilitate a range of professional development opportunities for all involved. Unlike other Sculpture events, Sculpture in the Vineyards focuses on site specificity and values a response to location as well as the creation of an object. We also make a point of supporting the broadest possible spectrum of sculpture, we mentor young practitioners alongside to senior figures of the sculpture world. We make space for fibres, ceramics, installation, glass, grass painting, ephemeral works and a whole gamete of works which you may not see in other outdoor sculpture prizes.
I think the spirit of our event is Sculpture in the Vineyards greatest strength and point of difference, we are not a corporate entity, we are an artist lead initiative which has been founded on the generosity of our vineyard owners. They essentially open their homes to our team and our artists to make this event possible year after year.
How difficult is it to curate Sculpture in the Vineyards, coordinating all those different elements?
Danella Bennett (Curator): This was my first year with the team. Sculpture in the Vineyards features 71 outdoor works across 4 unique venues. Each location has a distinct set of characteristics to be taken into account. At the outset of this year's exhibition developing trust and understanding the key stakeholders needs were important considerations. Understanding each site and the environmental features that create unique experiences for audiences was another factor when considering locations for each art work. Acknowledging artists needs and ensuring they were supported in the delivery of their work was also important. Finally positively contributing to the audience experience so they would continue to support sculpture in the vineyards.
|Catherine Kingsmill, untitled. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|
In your opinion what has been the most interesting work shown and why?
Tara Morelos: One of the most interesting works in this years exhibition for me is by Terry Hills - A Study in Brown. Undeniably a controversial work that manages to both confound the general public and raise an eyebrow or two within the inner sanctum of exhibiting artists. The work throws into question the intrinsic value and hence stature of the artist statement in informing contemporary works while digging deeper still into our preconceived notions of the sculptural form. Its a real treat.
Todd Fuller: Sculpture in the Vineyards tends to feature a lot of reclaimed materials and responses to the environment but this year a work which has stuck with me is Elissa Jane Smolinski's Holubic. Its title is taken from the dutch word for hug. We have all come to know the work as 'huggy' for short. It is a large latex ambiguous creature with horns and a yellow fleshy surface. At two metres tall it stands out in the environment and has been curated as if scuttling from a nearby grove of trees. it lacks facial features yet implies different expressions from every angle. It is the perfect mix of beauty, the grotesque and intrigue. When you approach it it feels like a scene from Jurassic park and you wait for it to spring to life with anticipation. Holubic (or huggy) is is attractive yet repulsive, welcoming yet dangerous, vulnerable and fierce- it is a poetic metaphor for the complexities of love.
Danella Bennet: I had the pleasure of watching Dogswood install his work at stonehurst cedar creek. Witnessing the installation of the work was a very seductive. Dogswood spent hours tying elements of his work together, suspending them and wrapping intricate details throughout his installation. It was a privilege to witness him in the act of making.
Rebecca Holmes (Education Officer):It's difficult to decide what I think is the most interesting work, at any given time I could choose a different work for a different reason. Today however, I think I would say Akira Kamada's Full Circle. The simplicity of it's form, medium and construction possess a modesty that hands over responsibility to the viewer to interpret and engage in their own way.
|Claude Jones, Endangered. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|
Any memorable moments?
Tara Morelos: The forces of nature have definitely provided some memorable moments over the years. Strong winds blew over Stephen Coburn’s five metre Hunter Valley Sun in 2006 and cows got up close and personal with Diego Bonetto Weedy Connection Tour that same year. Flood waters carried Nigel Helyer’s Spinner on a merry tour of one of the vineyard in 2007 leaving other sculptures standing while large stainless steel vats were tossed far and wide. Working in the outdoors is always fun and we have learn't a lot from mother nature.
Todd Fuller: There have been so many over the few years, I was recently proud to watch a local indigenous artist named Adam Drylie give his first Artist Talk at our Art Gallery of New South Wales Bus Tour. He created and exhibited his first sculpture with support from our organisation. To see him share his 'soul story' with the group was inspiring and humbling for us all.
Danella Bennett: The feeling of synergy from our team especially as it was the first time we'd worked together and the realisation that each site was successful individually and collectively.
Rebecca Holmes: My most memorable moments would have to be from the first day of school group visits. 45 Year 1 students from St Philip's Christian College in Nulkaba came to the Wollombi Village Vineyard for guided tours, activities and workshops. Watching students bathe their hands in blue shadows under Emilia Krumm's La Foglia and talk about how it was like being under the sea was definitely one of them.
Sculpture in the Vineyards runs from November 2 - December 2, 2013.
|Dogswood, regeneration 1, 2 and 3. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|
|Rae Bolotin, seed form. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|
|Terry Hills, A Study in Brown. Image courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards.|