When you live in the Valley and you drive through it constantly, you can take it for granted. But it’s a unique setting, and that should be celebrated.” David Ball, Curator

September is going to be an exciting time for our community: it’s when Sculpture in the Valley returns, with an exciting new curator, a very special location, and and some of Australia’s best artists bring their most inspiring works to KV to compete for major prizes. 

Sculpture in the Valley is held over two creativity-packed weekends at one of our area’s front row properties, with sculptures large and small filling paddocks and purpose-built internal exhibition spaces. It’s also a showcase for the best of the Valley’s fine music, food and wine added in for good measure, and definitely an event for all to come and enjoy. 

The landmark biennial exhibition has been held regularly since in 2007. It was cancelled in 2021 due to Covid, then in 2022 came the rains; but following this enforced hiatus, there’s a pent-up burst of creative energy to tap into. Organisers have made the most of the time away to return with a refreshed approach, one that emphasises the Valley’s natural beauty and its ability to inspire. 

Held for the first time up at Wilburra, 100 beautiful acres high up on Smart’s Road, the exhibition also has a dynamic new curator, internationally respected Southern Highlands based artist David Ball. David has been connected with the exhibition since its beginnings, and was a prize winner in 2017. He has also won Bondi’s Sculpture by the Sea, and has work included in renowned art collections Australia-wide. David is a self-confessed bush-baby, with an artistic practice that draws on a love of country and many years of landscape design experience. His passion and playground is the Australian landscape; as he explains, “Everything from a grain of sand to the rocks and the stars in the sky. It’s just tuning in and connecting to the magic of it all, finding connecting points between art and nature.”

As curator, one of the first things David did was to join with the exhibition committee, a group of dedicated locals, many with arts experience, who have long been involved with the exhibition and its umbrella organisation, Arts in the Valley. Speaking of the team’s ambitions, he explains “One of the main things is to feel like we’re increasing the gravity of this exhibition, to mean more to the arts and local communities. It takes effort and dedication, but we have a pretty good team”. He adds that the organisers’ energy levels are running pretty high. Together the group set out to explore the area for a site that could accommodate the most diverse range of art as possible. “Kangaroo Valley is one of the most glorious places in the country”, David says. “It’s a unique setting, that should be celebrated, and this show should be part of the celebrating, you know, the glory and diverse nature of the Valley and art.” 

When the award-winning property Wilburra became available, thanks to the generosity of its owners, the team knew they had found the exhibition’s new home. David explains that, while the committee acknowledges it’s hard to find a location in KV that doesn’t have something going for it, Wilburra is particularly special; while just ten minutes from the Village, it is especially enchanting because of its exclusivity – the elevated location, the height that gets you up into the atmosphere of Kangaroo Valley escarpment. There are well-kept courtyard gardens and water features situated adjacent to wilder paddocks and the dam, complete, of course, with resident ducks. 

“It’s got a big variety of settings; a water area, broad open spaces, and the intimate indoor gallery. Each sculpture has different requirements. Some need stillness, some want to be in amongst people, and they’re very playful; and Wilburra offers that as well as space for visitors to explore the art with friends, take time to lunch, wander and soak up the atmosphere.”

David’s aim for Sculpture in the Valley is to see it known as the landmark art event south of Sydney, something that it is well on the way to becoming. With recognised artists bringing works, and all art for sale, there’s an ever-increasing buzz amongst collectors. For 2023, the exhibition judges are Janet Laurence and Michael Snape, who are both extremely respected Australian artists, and they will be awarding prize money of over $38,000, one of the largest sculpture prizes around. Additionally, the event includes a prize-winning, taken on-site photography competition, again aiming at authentic inclusivity. 

The excited curator points out that a fundamental aim for the exhibition is that it retains a balance and keeps art accessible to as many people as possible. “There is going to be a range of art, from something such as a piece of rock jewellery to a huge, steel three-dimensional object. There are works from people who make things in their back shed,, and others who are just experimenting and trying out crazy ideas, taking a bit of a gamble on putting something together. Then there are others who are craft-based, who have a certain skill in a particular material.” What they have in common, he says, is that they are fun, meaningful celebrations of nature. “For some people, it’s flora, for others it’s fauna. some with the water, but everyone has a connection with nature.”

The aim is to encourage a moment to take stock and think about how we live now. 

“I hope visitors walk away different from when they came to the exhibition. In a positive way. I would be very disappointed if they went home completely unaffected.” Based on the response so far, it’s highly likely he will be a happy man. 



Sculpture in the Valley 2023 runs over two weekends, September 9-10 and 16-17. Director of Sculpture is Stuart McCreery. David Ball is Curator. Judges are Janet Laurence and Michael Snape. Sculptors from across NSW, Victoria, ACT, and Tasmania are showing works. There will be food and music for visitors to enjoy while they take the opportunity to explore the outstanding award-winning location, Wilburra. See https://www.artsinthevalley.net.au/sculpture for more details. 

See you in September!

Lisa Anthony