Twenty kilometres across the border in the Upper Murray, Australia’s newest major regional cultural project, the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail, was officially opened this week by the Hon. Stuart Ayres, NSW Minister for Tourism and Sport, as part of four days of local celebrations.
This major new, permanent public collection of over 25 sculptures by renowned artists from across Australia and the world was created in response to the Black Summer Fires of 2019-2020 and stretches along 100km of the stunning Snowy Valleys Way, a backroad from Sydney and Canberra to Melbourne in southern NSW.
The Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail showcases sculptures in the historic towns of Adelong, Batlow, Tumbarumba, the hamlet of Tooma and the Tumbarumba wine region cellar doors at Courabyra Wines, Johansen Wines and Obsession Wines.
Opening 25 years almost to the day after the world renowned Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi exhibition first launched on 3 May 1997 – the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail was conceived in partnership with the local communities to aid in the socio- economic recovery following the devastating bushfires, with funding secured from the NSW Government’s Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund.
With the aim of being recognised as a world class sculpture collection and one of the most important sculpture collections in Australia, the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail is another reason for people from across Australia to visit this hidden and relatively unknown gem that has much to offer from bike and walking paths to the world class Tumbarumba region vineyards.
Artworks in the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail include significant sculptures by Haruyuki Uchida, Keizo Ushio and Takeshi Tanabe from Japan; Keld Moseholm from Denmark; Milan Kuzica from Czech Republic; Jennifer Cochrane, Norton Flavel and Ron Gomboc from Western Australia; and from New South Wales Michael Le Grand, Philip Spelman, Harrie Fasher, Stephen King and Elyssa Sykes-Smith who is now based in London, amongst many more celebrated artists from Australia and around the world including New Zealand, Slovakia and South Africa.
The permanent collection will grow with additional sculptures set to be added in late 2022 and the first half of 2023, including a significant works by Sui Jian Guo, one of the most highly regarded sculptors in China, and Ukrainian artist Egor Zigura, with Zigura donating the funds he received for his sculpture to support Ukrainian refugees.
The Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail official public opening, held at Courabyra Wines in Tumbarumba, was attended by Snowy Valleys Council Mayor Ian Chaffey and a number of international and interstate visitors from Auckland, Melbourne and Perth including the former Mayor of Cottesloe in Perth Jo Dawkins, the former Director of the Geelong Gallery Geoffrey Edwards and local Members of the NSW Parliament Justin Clancy and Dr Joe McGirr.
“The NSW government is proud to support this new, permanent series of sculptures which presents a wonderful opportunity to reinvigorate tourism to the Snowy Valleys after what has been an incredibly difficult period for the region,” said The Hon. Stuart Ayres, NSW Minister for Tourism and Sport.
“I commend the artists, organisers and community who have brought this exciting cultural project to the region, linking towns and connecting people with this unique area.”
A key element of the project is the Schools Program with artist-led sculpture making workshops for the students across the Snowy Valleys. This program has been embraced by the students and teachers, and since December 2020 until now some 1,250 students from 14 of the 16 schools across the Snowy Valleys have participated in workshops with artists from around Australia and across the world – some students already participating two or three times – thanks to the BLER Fund, the Federal government’s RISE Fund and the Sydney based donors for Sculpture by the Sea’s School’s Program which could not be held for the last two years due to Covid.
“As Minister for the Arts, I am passionate about making art accessible to all Australians, so it brings me much joy when I see examples of art being integrated into public spaces and landscapes,” said The Hon. Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts.
“This is why the Morrison Government is proud to support Sculpture by the Sea through our RISE fund, including its Remote and Regional School Education Programs, which is now inspiring students from regional NSW as they explore the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail.”
The Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail has been created by the team behind Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi and Cottesloe beach in Perth. For more information, visit: www.sculpturebythesea.com for details.
Images: Keizo Ushio (Japan), Oushi Zokei, Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail Tooma 2022 – photo by John Riddell | Haruyuki Uchida (Japan), Thinking Red, Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail Tumbarumba – photo by John Riddell