Whangarei Sculpture Symposium 2018

WSS 2018

The 2018 event ran from 12 March until 22 March once again at Hihiaua Peninsular.  This is a popular event for the Whangarei community and was open to the public every day from 12 March until the public auction on the 22nd of March.

For 2018, artists were invited to create a form that relates to ‘Journey’. Based on first encounters, exploring and navigating. This year also inspired by the Sestercentennial 250th anniversary of the voyage of the Endeavour captained by Lieutenant James Cook, which commemorates his exploration of our coast. When life ends, life will begin anew whether it’s through reincarnation or the beginning of someone else’s journey, life continues on. These experiences can by physical, natural or historical influences which inspire the design of the sculpture.

The sculpture was to interpret a local influence and the theme of journeys; the aesthetic form is key and will be part of the judging criteria.


12 March 2018              Mihi Whakatau – official welcome and sculpting begins
21 March 2018              1 pm – tools down
22 March 2018             Judging and public Auction at 5.30pm

Winners of the WSS2018

Whangarei District Council Award –  Steve Molloy “Intrepid Journey”

Te Au Marie ‘Journeys’ Award & Quest Whangarei People’s Choice Award – Anthony Dunn &  Graham Nathan
He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata

Finished Sculptures: Photography credit – Chris Schrueder

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Meet the artists for 2018

Natasha Smyser

Natasha holds a BMVA Bachelors of Māori Visual Arts – Te Maunga Kura Toi – Whakairo, completed with a merit in 2016 through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Where she was taught the traditional toi (art) of Whakairo, (Māori wood carving) and continues on that journey, as well as branching out into contemporary/modern sculpture.Natasha is an emerging artist into the wood & stone symposiums and enjoys working in a variety of mixed media visual arts and is continually adding on to her expanding kete of art.

In 2016 she won an award for her sculpture “Kaitiaki” of a Taniwha, coming 1st place in the tertiary section of the 30th Waitakere Trusts Art, Sculpture & Photography awards; an annual event of 500+ artists from all over NZ.

Trisha Fisk

After four years of study, Trisha worked as a journalist and writer, after which she moved to the Hokianga to take up a farming lifestyle. Those years gave her a wealth of practical skills which she has since combined with two years of study at The Learning Connexion to develop her artwork. Trisha moved out to the Whangarei Heads eight years ago and enjoys taking part in exhibitions such as the Quarry Gardens’ Sculpture Northland and the Whangarei Heads Art Trail, this year will be her third time participating in the Whangarei Sculpture Symposium.

Rex O’Brien

Rex was born and raised in Mount Maunganui where he currently resides. For 18 years he has been carving and exploring people, manu (birds), and early Aotearoa. Rex’s preferred medium to carve in is hard stone but he has recently been experimenting with wood. Rex is an award-winning sculptor and winner of the 2016 Whangarei Sculpture Symposium, he has work displayed on the Whangarei Sculpture Walk on the Hatea Loop and in many private and public collections.

Justin Murfitt

Justin challenges himself to convey ideas with the simplest form possible, with the aim to be as clear and direct as he can be. He therefore avoids decoration or complexity with the delivery of his work. Justin prefers to work in natural materials, such as wood and stone, that have an inherent nobility that lend themselves to be used in this way. Justin has worked on several public artworks including the sails at the southern entrance to Whangarei City (2002) and the concrete ‘seagull seats’ on the Whangarei Sculpture Walk at the Town Basin (2011).

Miriam von Mulert

Miriam was born in Germany and from an early age has been interested in the arts, this interest brought her to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany where she trained as a wood carver. She travelled to New Zealand in 1994 and has since worked in a variety of museums, including Te Papa, Wellington, as well as doing her own work, commissions and taking part in symposiums. She moved to Whangarei to raise a family and pursue a more self-sufficient lifestyle as well as to do sculptural work and teach carving classes. Over the years Miriam has taken part in various solo and group exhibitions, with some of her work on display in Urquharts Bay, Auckland Art Gallery and the Whangarei Sculpture Walk as well as in private collections throughout the country.

Susan Dinkelacker

Susan is a local sculptor specialising in hand-carved birds. She strives to depict their inner character through expression, she aims to connect with the viewer in a tangible and tactile way and to delight. Susan prefers to use hand chisels and says the indents left by the chisel are a hallmark of her finished work. A large owl commission was recently carved for a Whangarei patron, and other commissions of birds have been sent as far afield as the Netherlands and Malaysia. Many of Susan’s works are currently on display at Gallery Helena Bay.

Nicholas Compton

Nicholas grew up in Carteron, Wairarapa with links to Ngati Kahungunu Ki Wairarapa and now resides in Western Australia, working as an artist.  He has been exhibiting in group and solo exhibitions for the past 30 years and feels that his experiences yachting around the Pacific and growing up in Aotearoa explains the aquatic theme in his work.

Peter Schouten

Peter was introduced to carving in Oamaru stone six years ago while helping his partner Els van Drunen during the 2012 Whangarei Sculpture Symposium. The enjoyment this gave him led to a decision to enter the next two symposiums in 2014 and 2016.

Schouten says “The challenges of working in Oamaru stone were very interesting and the end results of the 2014 sculpture was something to be proud of”. His work at each symposium have generated widespread interest he really enjoys the challenge that abstract art gives when applied to the fragile Oamaru stone. The media he works in are a mix of stone and wood.

Els van Drunen

Els has been an artist for most of her adult life, starting out in oils and pencil drawings then migrating to ceramics and sculpture. For many years she has tutored ceramics to children at the Quarry Arts Centre in Whangarei with the emphasis on free form modelling and sculpting.  She is a member of a variety of art groups in Whangarei and New Zealand and exhibits in local and national shows including participating in the past three Whangarei Sculpture Symposiums.

She says a great portion of her artwork is in sculpture and she gets great satisfaction in producing ‘big’ stone work. “The challenge that cutting and carving the soft Oamaru stone brings in fragility to form, leads to some very special challenges”.

Elijah Revell

Elijah is from Kaipara and enjoys carving with all types of materials, but mainly works with clay and wood. He has a BA (Visual) from Northland Polytechnic and has participated in various symposiums including the 2016 Whangarei Sculpture Symposium and believes that art is his language and uses it as a way of speaking. “I explore the knowledge of my culture through my art. I feel a strong connection to the people who came before they are with me all the time. I feel it my roll to keep our tradition alive.”

Rhyll Stafford

Drawing inspiration and artistic purpose from life stories and our natural world, Rhyll has worked creatively over the last 25 years. Her work is influenced by being brought up in the rainforests of Far North Queensland, living for 10 years on the side of Mt Taranaki, and more latterly on the fringes of the Waitakere Ranges in Auckland.  Largely self taught, she works with carved and assembled stone and encaustic wax assemblages, linking the conceptual with the physical and focusing on the sacred within us, between us and in our wider world.  

Ross Mann

Ross has a background in trade work and property development but he has always been interested in the arts. Almost 30 years ago he demolished a kauri church and has been making furniture from it ever since.  Recently his focus has been on building exterior tables from hardwood and he also sculpts in Oamaru stone as well as paints in oil and acrylics.

Trevor Nathan

Trevor has been sculpting full time since 2003, initially working in Oamaru stone, but now with a strong focus on native timbers and hard stone.Through his work he likes to create a play on light and shadows which results in the viewer’s perspective changing as the light changes. He aims to draw the viewer’s eye around and through the work, rather than provide a static form.Trevor has participated in symposiums throughout New Zealand and was the winner of the the 2016 Rotorua Stone Symposium with his work ‘Synergy’ which permanently resides in Rotorua’s art collection at the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail.

Dave Taylor

Dave is currently a full time practicing artist and has lived in the Whangarei area for the last 15 years. Dave has worked predominantly in the area of adornment, bone , shell, wood and pounamu “ My favourite thing as an artist, is transforming pieces of precious and semi precious materials , into objects of significance to the wearer; expressions of love, or pieces of history, iconography imbued with Mauri [life force]”. He has recently transferred his carving skills to a larger and more challenging scale; creating sculpture from limestone, andesite and wood. “This will be my fourth Symposium, and I am looking forward to sharing time with friends I have made through this event.”

Mike Cameron

Mike graduated with a Bachelor of Maori Art (painting) from Northtec in 2017 and works in mixed media with a passion for sculpture and carving. Mike was born and bred in Whangarei and has shown his works in group exhibitions in 2015, 2016 and 2017 as well as being involved in the carving of the inside of the Northtec Marae in 2015 and carving of pou for the Kawhea harbour in 2016. Mike is an emerging artist who works with integrity and careful planning, he uses rangahau (research) as the basis for his works. He is a spiritual artist who is able to capture nature within his artform.

Graham Nathan

“Coming from a digital arts / multimedia background the hands on physical nature of Mahi Whakairo has given me a new means and medium to explore, express and reconnect with parts of TeAo Maori I never knew were such an integral part of myself and my artistic process.” – Graham

Tai Meuli

Tai says his inspiration comes from the importance he places on connecting with nature and valuing and respecting the physical environment. “It is humbling and gratifying to have both young and old, man and women of all diverse cultures shape redefine stone, wood and pounamu, captivating its natural beauty while allowing these materials to speak”.

Lawrence Makoare

Born and bred in Tamaki Makaurau of Ngati Whatua descent, Lawrence was trained in the arts of Whakairo from the age of 14 through the guidance of Master Carver Denis Conway on Tumutumuwhenua his home Marae in Orakei where he still lives today as one of 3 head carvers on the Marae.

Lawrence works in two mediums; wood and soft stone and is about to progress to driftwood sculptures “I get to create and share my soul with the world in a different form, a piece of me that will leave a legacy that my Whanau, Friends and Iwi can be proud of for endless years to come. Within me I carry many of my ancestors and through my actions; I get to pass this on in forms that make my culture unique. Mauri Ora”

Steve Molloy

Steve Molloy is a multi-award winning New Zealand Artist, Photographer and is the Director of the MOLLOY GALLERY in New Plymouth, New Zealand.  He works predominantly in object and installation sculpture, photography and painting. Molloy exhibits in National and International gallery’s as well as attends national and international symposiums.  His Photography has been shown in magazines, newspapers, commercial business, galleries and exhibitions throughout the world and he has monumental sculpture in public places throughout New Zealand.  

Molloy’s work is uniquely defined by his process of incorporating the use of fragmentation, movement, miniaturization, space and illusion as a tool to view normal scenes and objects in an abstract way. An important aspect of his photography is to capture the intended image through the lens with minimal work in post-production.

Paul Olson

Sacred art for sacred people.  A wandering artist from the age of 15. Numerous successful exhibitions from Invercargill to Kaitaia. A specialist in ancient wisdom for a modern age.

Anthony Dunn

No te rohe o Oruawharo ahau

E whakapapa ana au ki toku marae, a Rangimarie ko toku turangawaewae

E haere au e takaro i runga ki toku maunga, ko Tokatoka

I kaukau au i rapu kai nga Tio me nga karahu i roto toku moana, ko Kaipara

Ko te Uri-o-hau te hapu, Ko Ngapuhi nui tonu te iwi.

Ko Ngatokimatawhaorua me Maataatua oku waka.

Ko Anthony Dunn ahau

Anthony has been carving for around nine and a half years.  He is also a qualified builder and chef, a Father of four and a happily married man. He is one half of a magnificent team that won Marae Kai Masters 2016.  Anthony is currently studying at NorthTec doing the Bachelor of Maori Art – Maunga Kura Toi.

On auction day (Thursday 22nd March) the site will open from 2pm onwards for sculpture viewing with live music by Nathan Calver from 4pm-5pm, the Award Ceremony beginning at 5pm followed by the auction at 5.30pm.If wet weather persists please keep any eye out for a venue change for the auction!

A HUGE thank you goes out to all our amazing sponsors & volunteers whose kind contributions made this event possible. 

Please see the list of images under ‘Proudly Sponsored by’ for all sponsors.

Come along during the event to see the talented sculptors creating wonderful artworks and vote for your favourite with The Quest People’s Choice Award!
To check out which talented artists are attending the event check out their bios on our website and keep updated through the event Facebook page.

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