Artists express themselves in high-country sculpture event

ISOBEL EWING
Last updated 05:00 06/03/2013
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Children sit in a sculpture made during the High Country International sculpture event.

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A sculpture made from the remains of a drilling rig was one of the creations to come out of a recent artistic project at a Tahora sheep farm.

About 100 people ventured along the Forgotten World Highway to visit the inaugural Tahora High-country International Sculpture event which ran for five days.

Taranaki native Sonja van Kerkhoff, who now lives in the Netherlands, organised the event with the aim of creating cutting-edge art from materials offered by the land, in a remote setting.

Seven artists were invited to spend five days living on the remote sheep farm and creating art. Farmers and builders were also invited as "collaborators" in the creative process.

Other artworks included a wall extension called Veils, made from various grades of fencing wire, tree drawings on planks of wood called Enclosure and a circle of seats made from the remains of a wood-chopping competition and dead manuka and cherry trees.

Ms van Kerkhoff said most visitors came because of the story that ran in the Taranaki Daily News last Wednesday, and international tourists saw the sign on the Forgotten World Highway.

"It was amazing how many people came out from New Plymouth and were interested in land art. On Friday, we had over 50 visitors."

She said most visitors seemed surprised how good the art was.

"They reacted as if it was in a gallery but outside, and things they could touch."

Ahititi electrician Bryan Ramage made his artistic break at the event.

He attended as a collaborator but Ms van Kerkhoff upgraded him to artist level because she was so impressed by his drawings on pieces of wood.

She hoped the boost would encourage Mr Ramage to exhibit his artwork.

"It's given him the confidence to see it as sculpture rather than craftwork, he's a very skilled craftsman."

Ms van Kerkhoff said the success of the event meant she would endeavour to hold it in the region every two years.

"Art could be a nice alternative to the oil rigging going on in Taranaki."

Goat farmer Andy Erb came out to the farm to help and Ms van Kerkhoff said his farm near Burgess Park may host the next event.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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