Ready to carve it up in sculpting challenge

Huge blocks of Oamaru limestone will be unloaded at the Friendly Bay Playground in Oamaru today, as South Island carvers prepare to go up against each other and the elements at the biennial Oamaru Stone Carving Symposium.

Oamaru Stone Symposium committee chairman Matt King said 15 carvers from Oamaru, Dunedin, Timaru, Ashburton and Nelson would take part in the two-week-long event, which would start tomorrow .

Mr King said carvers would need to work 12 hours a day, and would have to ''go at it pretty hard'' to finish carvings before the November 15 deadline.

''You do go through all weathers. It takes a bit of endurance.

''It's pretty much two weeks of solid stone carving but we do hope to have a bit of entertainment on the middle weekend and also on the night before the silent auction on Saturday, November 16.

''We are also hoping to have a people's choice award again this year, where people vote with a gold coin, and that money will all go together to try and buy the favourite piece for the community, so we can give a piece of sculpture to Oamaru and to this wonderful new playground area.''

Mr King said he was pleased to see there was an even spread of men and women in the event.

He said Oamaru stone was probably easier to carve than other varieties of stone, which meant a carver was not limited by the size of the block.

''It can be so even and consistent. It's easy to work and it has a lovely luminosity.''

A total of 24 tonnes of stone ordered for the event would arrive today. They would be from half-tonne to three-tonne blocks, he said.

''Some people do a couple of carvings; some just do one big one.''

A high standard of work was expected this year, and the finished sculptures would be sold by silent auction on November 16.

They would be put on public exhibition the day after, he said.



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