Sculpture show returns to Mudgee

6 September 2016
Latte Time: Gillie and Marc Schattner. Credit: SIG
Latte Time: Gillie and Marc Schattner. Credit: SIG

Set in Mudgee's dramatic rural landscape, Sculptures in the Garden is held over one weekend each October. 

The not-for-profit event combines Australian sculpture and traditional art mediums in beautiful rural surroundings within the Rosby private garden and vineyard.

Kay and Gerald Norton Knight

First held in October 2011, the celebrated exhibition is the inspiration of Kay and Gerald Norton Knight, the owners of Rosby. This year, Sculptures in the Garden was awarded the Mid-Western Shire Community Event of the Year.

Mr and Mrs Norton-Knight first moved to their 80-acre property outside of Mudgee in 1983. 

Whilst establishing their vineyard, Mrs Norton Knight completed a fine arts degree and opened a print and sculpture studio in the garden.

Mrs Norton Knight hosts a variety of art workshops at the studio that are open for community participation.

Students work with recognised tutors including artist David Newman White, whose works feature overseas in the New York Agora Gallery and Saatchi Gallery Online, London.


Sculpture show labelled an "asset"

The annual Rosby celebration of sculpture continues to grow in size and stature. Each year is a showcase of new creativity. 

Since 2012, the event has attracted over 2000 visitors to the region each year and showcased the work of more than 250 artists.

"There are always fresh works," Mrs Norton Knight said. "And for the people who come back year after year, it’s nice to give them something to look at from a new artist they haven’t seen before." 

"We are anticipating more than 3000 visitors to the exhibition over this October weekend, offering huge exposure to the participating artists, while also showcasing the best hospitality our local tourism industry has to offer." 

Leianne Murphy, Acting CEO Mudgee Region Tourism, said the exhibition is a wonderful cultural event that has the support of the Mudgee community.

"Sculptures in the Garden at Rosby Wines provides visitors [with] an exceptional reason to skip town with their loved ones and appreciate an authentic cultural experience in Mudgee region," she said.

Murphy said the event was supported by many local businesses and was "an asset" to the Mudgee region.

Mid-Western Regional Council Mayor Des Kennedy said 524,000 visitors came to the region each year and that the Rosby event was a drawcard. 

"Sculptures in the Garden is an important community event that attracts visitors to our region and promotes cultural development," Cr Kennedy said.  


Gaia by Leon LesterLeon Lester's carved limestone work, Gaia. Credit: SIG

A noticeable air of surrealism is evident in the Rosby home paddock. Abstract and realist sculptures, created from a range of natural and man-made materials are positioned throughout the extensive garden. 

Clone 1 by Sam Valenz. Credit: SIG


More than art on offer

This year, there will be 260 sculptures crafted by around 90 artists. 

Previous exhibitors have included Jimmy Rix (Sculpture by the Sea), Greg Taylor (from MONA's vagina wall fame), John Fitzmaurice (Sculpture by the Sea), local artist Nigel White (Sculptures by the Sea) with his timber sculptures, Alan Rose (Sculpture by the Sea, Vivid) and Greer Taylor (Sculpture at Scenic World). 

One of the Central West's premier art events, Sculptures in the Garden is also one of the largest sculpture exhibitions in rural NSW. 

Prizes range from the $15,000 Mid-Western Regional Council annual acquisition prize to the $500 People Choice Award. The winning acquisition will become part of Mid-Western Regional Council's public art collection.

Sculptures are also for sale. Prices range from $20 to $20,000. Sculptures sold last year for a total of almost $60,000. 

The $5 entry fee and catering revenue is donated to the Mudgee Support Group of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and the local Mid-Western Regional Shire arts initiative - a sculpture walk in the Mudgee's Lawson Park beside the Cudgegong River.

Volunteers from the Guide Dog Support Group operate the gates and the food stalls where there is a gourmet BBQ lunch and espresso coffee on offer.

Daily discussion panels, sculptor interviews and artist curated walks provide context to the exhibition. 

Walks with a horticulturist are complimented by plant and fresh flower stalls. Stalls are run by local horticulturists and plant nurseries who can advise on gardening. Bunches of flowers, freshly picked from the gardens, are also available for purchase.   

Another enjoyable addition to the weekend's activities is a display of puppies in training from the Guide Dogs Puppy Raising Centre. 

 A Guide Dog pup in training. Credit: SIG


Room for the curious and collectors 

Visitors are reminded that Rosby is a working, rural property and care should be taken when walking around the event site, especially in relation to any wildlife encountered.

Children's activities will include a display of children's sculptures based on the extraterrestrial theme, To The Moon and Back..., and a maze. 

As well as the curious visitors and serious collectors, the exhibition attracts luminaries from the art world. Previous guest speakers have included notable dignitaries such as former NSW governor Dame Marie Bashir and Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.

This year's exhibition will be opened by former Art Gallery of NSW director, Edmund Capon.

Mr Capon, who was director of the gallery from November 1978 until his retirement in December, 2011, will bring a great depth of art knowledge to the event.

“With a visual psyche that has been so conditioned by the landscape and not by the human figure, the art of sculpture has tended to be in the shadow of the art of painting in Australia,” Mr Capon said.

“Happily that is no longer true, and it is events like Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney and Sculptures in the Garden that have made such a contribution to our appreciation of the art of sculpture."

Sculptures in the Garden 2016 will be held from October 8-9 at Rosby Wines. The exhibition will be open from 9am to 4pm each day.