Jocelyn Pratt of Thames has been attending the symposium since 2002.
It’s been 18 years since artist Jocelyn Pratt first transformed a rock into a piece of art on New Plymouth’s foreshore.
Pratt, who hails from Thames, has returned to Te Kupenga Biennial International Stone Sculpture Symposium ever since.
“This is the best symposium in New Zealand and it’s the best stone,” she said.
This year’s symposium begins on Saturday, January 4, with two artists from Australia, one from Turkey, six artists from around NZ and 19 from Taranaki will sculpt two andesite stones each over the next 20 days.
A week long exhibition of the completed sculptures runs from January 26 before they’re auctioned off on February 1.
“I really appreciate coming here and working on this land and working with the stone from this area, which is an amazing stone,” Pratt said.
Pratt is one of the most experienced artists in this symposium and often sculpted with the theme of nature in mind.
International artist Silvio Appomyi, had a similar theme with his sculptures, mainly focusing on wildlife and endangered species.
He has been sculpting since 1967 when he attended art school, got sick of all the metal work they had to do and decided to start sculpting stones, falling in love with the art form.
“When you approach a piece of stone, raw material, and put your heart and soul into it and bring something forth that’s never existed before, there’s a very special thing about that,” he said.
He had never worked with andesite stone before and was excited to try to sculpt a Māui dolphin, sticking with his theme of endangered species.
Organiser Chauncey Flay’s first time sculpting was after he joined Te Kupenga stone sculpture society when he moved back to Taranaki a few years ago.
He had volunteered at the previous symposium in 2018 and said he was looking forward to being involved as an artist this time and was hoping to create a tall column of smaller stones, although what he designed didn’t bother him.
“It’s more about sharing the experience with everyone here and learning,” he said.
They were also collaborating with the New Plymouth District Council’s TSB Festival of Lights and their final products will be lit up on the Coastal Walkway at night as well as having exhibitions at Koru on Devon and events at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre throughout the symposium.
The stones were donated by Jones Quarry and the society receives funding from the TSB Community Trust.
“The event really does run off the generosity of local businesses and organisations who donate their equipment and stones,” Flay said.