Cutting-edge art from backcountry farm

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 07:34 27/02/2013
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Sonja van Kerkhoff has organised the High Country International Sculpture 2013

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A remote sheep farm in Tahora has been transformed into a workshop for seven artists to create artwork with nothing but materials on the land.

Taranaki native Sonja van Kerkhoff, who now lives in the Netherlands, organised the Tahora High-country International Sculpture (THIS) 2013 with the intention of creating cutting- edge art in the backcountry.

The five-day pilot event, which kicked off yesterday, would be hosted by farmer Kerry Turner who hosts the biennial Tahora Folk Festival and is a musician himself.

The artists, Ms van Kerkhoff and partner Sen McGlinn, Jeff Thomson, Debb Stewart, Darren Keith, Matt Pine and Michelle Backhouse have funded their own travel and expenses for the event.

Ms van Kerkhoff said it was her dream to co-ordinate something unique and with an international edge.

"Here, off the Forgotten World Highway, we're going to make cutting- edge art, art that will make people stop still."

The only piece of extra equipment was a kiln brought on trailer, with artists utilising materials on the farm such as metals, wood, clay and even sheep dags, she said.

"Part of the magic is artists come with empty hands and see what they can do with the land."

Ms van Kerkhoff said the difference about THIS was that unlike other sculpture farms around New Zealand, it would be taking place on a working sheep farm.

There was no pressure on artists to create something for sale. The focus would be on the process rather than the finished product, she said.

"We're all going to make something new and outside of the box, responding to the country and the landscape," she said.

The artists would be put up in accommodation on the farm and at night they would all eat together in the shearers' quarters, she said.

Local farmers and builders would act as collaborators with the artists in the creative process.

Ms van Kerkhoff said the event had already attracted a stream of New Zealand and overseas tourists thanks to a sign on the Forgotten World Highway.

The event is located at Omapu Station, about midway along the Forgotten World Highway.

The best day for viewing is Friday and the event closes on Saturday at midday.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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