19 June 2023

Two new faces help shape sculpture festival's happy return to Kangaroo Valley

| Claire Sams
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sculptures at grassy plain

Dancing Branches by Michael Purdy is one of the past entries for Sculpture in the Valley. Photo: Supplied.

As the organisation behind a Shoalhaven sculpture festival made its plans for the event’s return after several years, it was also welcoming two new faces to its ranks.

“There’s a lot of ducks that need to get in a row for this, but I think those ducks are lining up,” Stuart McCreery said.

He had joined as the new director in 2023, while Southern Highlands artist David Ball had come on board as the new curator.

“It just so happened that the woman who had been the director for the past couple of years had decided that enough was enough,” Mr McCreery said.

“They asked me if I’d like to do it and I said, ‘Yes, it sounds like fun’. It has been a lot of fun – challenging, but a lot of fun.”

Mr McCreery had worked as an engineer and an actor, which he said gave him experience in both project management and the artistic world.

“I’ve worked in the arts and in engineering for decades, so it’d be hard to walk away from both of those things at the same time,” he said.

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This year, Sculpture in the Valley will be held on a property named Wilburra in Smarts Road, Kangaroo Valley.

“It is a beautiful property, high up on a hill with views down over the valley and across to the escarpment on the other side,” Mr McCreery said.

“It’s got some broad open fields, but also some beautiful landscaping in which different sculptures can be tucked away.

“It’s really a venue that’s fantastic for both small and large external sculptures – but there’s also a space for us to include indoor sculptures.”

There would be shuttle buses to take people to Wilburra from a car park a short distance away, Mr McCreery said.

Janet Laurence and Michael Snape have joined as judges in the non-acquisitive show, with all entries available for purchase.

“They have different viewpoints,” Mr McCreery said.

“They will have a good, healthy debate over which ones are going to be the winners before we announce them on the first Saturday of the actual exhibition.”

This year marks the first running of the festival since 2019, after the COVID-19 pandemic and bad weather forced cancellations in recent years.

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“The sculptors haven’t been able to show their stuff at our exhibition in that period of time,” Mr McCreery said.

“What sculptors do is they show their work – which is great, emotionally, for them – but they also get to sell it in what is a critical thing for them.

“We want to provide the avenue for them to do that, so we’re quite excited about our return.”

With the 18 June entry deadline approaching, Mr McCreery called on sculptors to nominate and urge fellow artists to do likewise.

“David, who’s an experienced sculptor of many, many years, says that sculptors may know about Sculpture in the Valley, but what they’ll do is they’ll put their application in on the last day,” he said.

“My comment to them is: don’t wait for the last day.”

Once entries have closed, Mr Ball will review and shortlist them.

Sculpture in the Valley will run on 9 and 10 September, and 16 and 17 September.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on About Regional.

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