Youngsters thrilled to have a go at sculpting

Linda Wilson, of Weston, shows Arthur Gillespie (9), of Nelson, how to carve his pyramid. Arthur...
Linda Wilson, of Weston, shows Arthur Gillespie (9), of Nelson, how to carve his pyramid. Arthur was one of about 10 children at Friendly Bay taking part in the 11th Oamaru Stone Symposium on its final day yesterday. Photo: Hamish MacLean
After the adult artists had all but left the Oamaru Stone Symposium at Friendly Bay yesterday, children were still chiselling away at their blocks of  limestone.

In the  symposium’s 11th year, Linda Wilson, of Weston, set up a table so pint-sized artists could have a crack at their own pint-sized blocks of the well-known local white stone.

"Nobody leaves here without being a sculptor," she said on the symposium’s final  day yesterday, with 10 children chiselling and sanding their own blocks of stone.

The garden designer, from Weston’s Rockvale Garden, has spent the past two weekends making carving accessible to any youngsters who were down at Oamaru Harbour.

She was there to provide the children with a "sense of achievement" and noted that "heaps" of the children keen to create their own memento from the stone symposium were from out of town.

Symposium secretary treasurer Trevor Lee, of Oamaru, marvelled at her ability to draw children into the event.

"When she arrives, children just seem to arrive like bees around a honey pot," he said.

The symposium, which began on September 21 this year, allowed the public to walk among the artists, and chat with them, as carvers took typically two-tonne rectangular blocks of stone from Weston’s Parkside Quarries and gave them new life over two weeks. 

He said he was "rapt" that nine carvers had come to this year’s symposium after organisers decided to bring ahead its schedule by two months to be part of the inaugural Waitaki Arts Festival this year. The two-week symposium was a large commitment for some artists to "come and live in Oamaru", he said.

Symposium site manager Matt King said while some had created "entirely original" sculptures, there were five bears created this year, including a small panda bear by Picton sculptor Pita Rua Lagan, prompting Mr King to use the word ‘‘cute’’ to describe an artist’s work at the stone symposium for the first time.

Most of the artists had left Oamaru yesterday, he said.

The stone symposium, which is held every two years, was the last stop for Arts on Bikes, the final event in the inaugural Waitaki Arts Festival.

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