The History of the Wood Sculpture Symposium
The idea of the sculpture symposium movement was initiated by Karl Prantl in Austria in 1959 and was quickly embraced by East European artists working in isolation behind the “Iron Curtain” of the post-World War II period.
This group of artists, eager to discover art movements in the Western World, staged a number of international symposiums. However, their ideas did not fit the ideology of the communist dictatorship of the time, which enforced the condition that only Eastern Bloc countries could send sculptors to attend.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War in 1991, symposiums have become very popular cultural events in many European towns, especially in Eastern Europe. This is largely because the public can watch the progress of artists at work in an “open” studio situation, and can engage in dialogue with the artists.
Over the past 20 years, 19 symposiums have taken place, with more than 285 participants from 54 countries demonstrating their huge diversity of techniques and styles. Currently, one of the most popular symposiums is held in Kemijarvi, Finland.
Sculpture symposiums in Australia are a much newer tradition, with the first one being held near Gosford in 1986, followed by Tanunda in the Barossa Valley in 1988, and the Living Desert Symposium in Broken Hill in 1993. The most successful Australian event is the Adelaide Hills International Sculpture Symposium, held biennially at the estate of iconic Australian artist Hans Heysen, which attracts over 12,000 visitors.
FOR MORE ON: Kemijarvi Wood Sculpting
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