The Carpet Snake – a Dreamtime story at Sculpture in the Gaol

The carpet snake, the eagle and the shark are the three principal characters in a Dreamtime story that will come to life in sculptures created by local pre-school students at this year’s Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition.

The story has been recounted by local Elders, Uncle John Kelly and Auntie Vicki Taylor, who has been instrumental in teaching the Dunghutti language to children in the region.

Following the overwhelmingly positive response received by last year’s King of the Birds installation, featuring clay nests arranged in a canoe and involving more than 200 community members, the team at Dalaigur Pre-School & Children’s Services knew their work would be cut out to match this achievement.

This year’s installation is set to include papier maché and plaster models of the three animals at the centre of the story and once again, involves all the children associated with both Dalaigur and Scribbly Gum Dalai Pre-Schools in Kempsey.

“The kids work on the project at least once a week, telling the story and learning language, which we verify using the Dunghutti Dictionary,” Uncle John Kelly said. Uncle John will conduct a smoking ceremony at this year’s Family Gala Day on Sunday, August 4, when the installation is unveiled at Trial Bay Gaol.

“The exhibition offers a great opportunity for our community of students to learn about and for our Elders to share cultural knowledge with the wider community,” director of Dalaigur Pre-School & Children’s Services, Megan McKay said.

Entries for the main exhibition, which runs from Saturday, August 3 to Friday, August 30, can be made via the website, until the end of June. There is no entry fee for artists and the prize pool currently stands at $5,000.

Phil Nicholas
Professional judge and new awards reinvigorate Sculpture in the Gaol

Image: Bloodlines, by Chris Edwards 2015. The Lake Neighbourhood Centre & Parklands, Blacktown NSW.

The appointment of a professional artist to judge exhibits, plus the creation of new award categories, is reinvigorating the 2019 Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition.

This year’s judge, Chris Edwards of 'Edwards Clarke', is a designer, public art specialist and a descendant of the Gumbaynggir people of Nambucca Heads. As a regular finalist in the Parliament of NSW Indigenous Art Prize, Chris’s work was highly recommended. He also won the National Landcom Award Mentorship to promote inclusive projects that build community identity and local participation through consultation and public artwork in new housing developments.

Event coordinator Phil Nicholas said, “We’re delighted to welcome Chris to judge the main prize categories, as well as give feedback to artists, drawing on his years of experience in the industry.”

“This exhibition attracts a lot of school and community group entries, which we absolutely love and it’s important to recognise the ideas, passion and effort that goes into producing these works.”

A prize will also be awarded for the popular Public Vote, as per previous years, plus two new categories for 2019, the Environmental Awareness and Emerging Artist awards, which each attract a cash prize.

“We’ve already had a local eco-business, Self Sufficiency Supplies, sponsor the prize money for the Environmental Awareness award”, said Mr Nicholas. “It is important that sponsorship is tied to measurable outcomes, so that business owners can see and talk about what their sponsorship is supporting.”

Another new prize category, named Spirit of the Macleay Valley, will be awarded by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, who host the exhibition at the historic Trial Bay Gaol in South West Rocks.

The event organisers have been also developing an Artist’s Travel & Accommodation Bursary, designed to support artists travelling significant distances to exhibit.

Mr Nicholas explained, “The exhibition has traditionally attracted submissions from Port Macquarie and the Hunter regions in the south and from Bellingen and beyond in the north, but now we’re receiving enquiries from artists wanting to travel from the Gold Coast, as well as southern and inland regions of NSW.”

Entries for the main exhibition, which runs from Saturday 3rd to Friday 30th August, can be made via the website and close at 5pm on Friday 14th June. There is no entry fee for artists and the prize pool currently stands at $5,000.

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Phil Nicholas
Sculpture in the Gaol artist applications open

Artist applications have opened for the 2019 Sculpture in the Gaol exhibition, which runs from Saturday 3rd to Friday 30th August.

Hosted by NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service at the historic Trial Bay Gaol in South West Rocks, the exhibition attracts artist entries from all over NSW and interstate, plus many local schools from around the Macleay Valley. Works are exhibited in and around the Gaol cells, which makes for a unique gallery experience.

Entries for the exhibition may be submitted via the exhibition website and close at 5pm on Friday 14th June. There is no entry fee and artists have the opportunity to share in a $5,000 prize pool.

Sculpture in the Gaol is now managed by a sub-committee of Macleay Valley Arts Council, working in partnership with State and local government bodies, business chambers, schools and business sponsors.

The sub-committee chair, local sculptor John Wilby said, “the new structure means stewardship of the event can be focussed on building value for artists and increasing awareness of this significant community art exhibition beyond the Macleay Valley.”

“We’re inviting sponsors to join us in this mission, while benefitting from the growing reputation and audience for this event.”

The exhibition unites the community around South West Rocks through its engagement with schools and in particular via the Escapee Trail, in which sculptures are hosted by local businesses. This year the Escapee Trail is scheduled to begin in early June and run through to the end of August. Entries for the Escapee Trail must be submitted by Friday 17th May.

The 2019 artistic programme also includes artist workshops and the introduction of professionally-judged art prizes, alongside the traditional people’s vote.

The opening event this year is a VIP Fundraiser on Saturday 3rd August, for which tickets are already on sale via the website, followed by the ever-popular Family Gala Day on Sunday 4th August.

The Awards Ceremony will take place at SeaBreeze Beach Hotel on Saturday 31st August, on the same day as the SWR Eat Street.

Phil Nicholas