Hunter Arts Trail

Wollombi’s Sculpture in the Vineyards and Dungog’s Sculpture on the Farm have joined forces to create a must-visit arts event in the Hunter.

It is quite impossible to resist the enthusiasm and can-do attitude of Susan Leith Miller and Philippa Graham, Festival Director and Chair of the Wollombi and Dungog sculpture festivals respectively. With both of them heading arts events in the Hunter and keen to support the local community, the decision to partner under the banner of the newly created Hunter Arts Trail was an easy one.

“For us, it’s all about collaboration, about attracting the best artists, about putting on events that will draw art lovers from far and wide, with the local communities actively involved and benefitting,” Philippa says passionately.

“With the Hunter Arts Trail we are hoping to add the arts as another signature attraction to the region’s well-established reputation for great wine, warm hospitality and stunning scenery.”

“Wollombi is thriving and so is Dungog,” Susan adds. “The Hunter Arts Trail creates an incentive for visitors to experience both towns, to come and stay for several days; to start in Wollombi and take in everything our historic village has to offer, to be inspired by what promises to be our best sculpture exhibition ever, before leisurely making their way through the Hunter to scenic Dungog for an equally fascinating exhibition.”

Sculpture in the Vineyards will open on 11 September, a month earlier than in previous years, running for a full 16 days through 26 September. Sculpture on the Farm will then take over from Friday, 1 October to Sunday, 10 October.

The Wollombi leg of the Hunter Arts Trail will see sculptures displayed in four indoor galleries, two vineyards and throughout the spectacular scenery of the Wollombi Valley. The longest running regional outdoor sculpture exhibition in Australia, it celebrates contemporary sculpture from sophisticated modernist to more whimsical and ephemeral pieces. The ABC’s Simon Marnie will officiate at the festival opening, joined by David Handley, AM, founding director of Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea. Other highlights include the Village Walk and Talk guided tours conducted daily by local festival guides and the Sculpture Twilight Dinner on 25 September, hosted by Noyce Bros Wines. Watch out for midweek accommodation specials that include free access to the guided tours and a complimentary bottle of wine.
Sculpture on the Farm, now in their third year, has again secured high profile judges with Steven Alderton, Director and CEO National Art School, Sydney, and Gerry Bobsien, Director of the Maitland Regional Art Gallery.

Large sculptures will be exhibited on the lush paddocks of idyllic Fosterton farm, with smaller pieces on show at The Royal Hotel, Gallery on Dowling and at Dungog by Design in the centre of Dungog. There will be sculpture lunches and dinners with a guest sculptor, sculpture rambles and movie nights at the historic James Theatre. Creative craft destination Hive and Gobbler and Gallery on Dowling will offer workshops. The Dungog Garden Ramble will have gardens open on October 2 and 3 as well as on October 9.

Artists have been encouraged to submit pieces to both festivals, albeit different ones. Hence visitors can look forward to intriguing, unique portfolios of sculptures set against the breathtaking rural scenery of both Wollombi and Dungog.

Be inspired by all that’s on offer and hop on the Hunter Arts Trail.

Read more in the Winter issue of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.

Story by Cornelia Schulze, photography courtesy of Sculpture in the Vineyards and Sculpture on the Farm