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Sculpture in the Valley 2023 an outstanding success!

Sculpture in the Valley, hosted at Wilburra Estate, Barrengarry has proven to be a grand success for Arts in the Valley. Both visitors and artists have passed on rave reviews of the exhibition, with several describing it as a ‘world class standard exhibition’. Around 3,000 visitors made their way to this picturesque estate in Kangaroo Valley. The feedback was unanimous – the event was nothing short of phenomenal! 

Karen Jarrett, a Sculpture in the Valley attendee, raved about the weekend: “The weather was gorgeous, and it was such a lovely event to enjoy with friends. It was so well organised.”

And some of our city-based visitors commented on the joys of navigating the Grahams Road single track bridge over the Kangaroo River where they sometimes had to compete with slow moving steers.

The exhibition was opened by Kangaroo Valley resident, ex Minister of the Arts, and Midnight Oil frontman, Peter Garrett. After much deliberation, judges Janet Laurence and Michael Snape decided where the $38,500 in prize money would go. Outdoor Sculpture winner, with a prize of $20,000, was Akira Kamada’s work Birth. The judges described the work as “simultaneously physically present and ephemeral”. The large work is a suspended nest of interwoven organic materials, including bamboo, discarded local grapevines, wire, recycled copper wire, and twine. It reflects Kamada’s creative background in responding to the natural environment through his lived experience in Japan, and now Jervis Bay, as a zen garden designer and a ceramicist.

“I was so surprised, I couldn’t believe I’d won from a field of so many amazing works”, Kamada reflected on his win. 

Outdoor Highly Commended was awarded to South Coast artist Greer Taylor for Collecting Tears, a beautiful work between the natural world and the artist, around the area of grief. The work has also been a crowd favourite, with people able to interact and lightly touch it up close. 

“I wanted to create a work that was acknowledging the grief that we all experienced during the fires”, said Taylor.

The indoor sculpture winner, with a prize of $7,000, was Central Tablelands sculptor Ingrid Morley with her four ceramic pieces in the series Tall Tales. The judges describe it as an “evocative and poetic work that shows gentle mastery of the ceramic process”. Indoor Highly Commended was awarded to Newcastle artist Edwardo Milan for his work Moment, a sculptural montage that plays between imagery and materiality, an eloquent sculptural conversation.

The owners of Wilburra Estate, Andrew McKindlay and Susan Teasey, deserve heartfelt thanks. Their generous decision to lend their property for the exhibition provided a stunning backdrop and showcased their support for arts and culture in the region. Their meticulous preparation of the venue played a pivotal role in elevating the entire experience.

This was a challenging venue. There were moments when Stuart McCreery, Sculpture Director, wondered whether it was all going to come together. However, the events of the last two weekends have proved a splendid vindication of his confidence that Wilburra Estate was a more or less perfect venue for displaying sculptures, and that the various logistical and other challenges could be overcome with the right team spirit.

The challenge is a natural one for any property with delightful views down to the valley and across to the escarpment. Such a view comes with elevation, and elevation comes with a steep, often single-track road. Andrew and Susan have developed the gardens here with both expert and hard-working hands. It has become one of the most distinguished properties in the valley and provided exactly the right combination of varied landscape elements to give curator and sculptor David Ball the opportunity to place each sculpture in the right spot to show it to advantage. 

SitV 23 was the first time the event has been held over two weekends. This allowed very positive reports and promotion on the radio to reach people who then joined us for the second weekend.

Without Kangaroo Valley’s famed volunteers the exhibition would not have been possible. Nearly all the feedback mentioned how pleasant our visitors had found their experience and attributed it in large part to the excellent organisation and friendly volunteers.

For the sculptors, the opportunity to display their works in such a perfect location was a delight. And around one third of the works displayed were sold.

While the ever-popular photo competition results are eagerly awaited, the People’s Choice Awards have been collated and the winners are Megan Waud’s Banksia’in the Outdoor ($3,000) and Ulan Murray & Rachel Burns Umbra in the Indoor ($2,000)


Sculpture in the Valley would like to thank the following without whose cooperation this show would not have been possible:

Andrew McKindlay & Susan Teasey for allowing us the use of their lovely property and preparing it so beautifully.
John Smart for allowing us to use his paddock as our car park, and slashing it for us.
Dave Selby, for undertaking various essential earthworks.
David Ball for volunteering his services as curator, and for providing his soft tyred forklift to allow sculptures to be placed in their ideal locations.
Kennedy’s Bus & Coach of Nowra whose drivers carried our visitors up and down the steep driveway without incident.
Hertz, who were very flexible in hiring us extra buses.
Nowra Traffic whose team lead by Catherine manned the intersection of Grahams Rd and Moss Vale Rd to ensure traffic moved safely.
Kangaroo Valley Golf Club for the loan of the golf buggy which proved invaluable in moving people and things on this tricky terrain.
Scots College Jazz Combo for coming down from Sydney to play for us, another outstanding example of community spirit shown by Scots College.
Jeremy Sawkins & trio and Sunday Lemonade Music for their musical contributions to the pleasant atmosphere.
Scot from All Events Medical Services who we did not have to trouble for first aid but whose presence was a solid reassurance.
Angie of Angie’s Foods and Pam Russell for the coffee cart.
Create NSW and the NSW Government for their grant of our intended exhibition in 2021, and being flexible allowing us to apply it to this one.
Our generous donors who helped us to raise the prize money.

And of course, to our marvellous team leaders and volunteers without whom the show would not have been possible, nor half as enjoyable!

Natalie Harker



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