BY ABBEY CAMERON - REGIONAL MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS - CREATIVE NORTHLAND

The Whangarei Sculpture Symposium is a unique arts event held on a biennial basis near Whangarei's Town Basin and Sculpture Trail. Creative Northland are encouraging sculptors from around the country and overseas to take part in the 2018 event with registrations open until October 18.

In 2016, the theme was 'Migration', 24 artists from around the country worked for 10 days straight on the Hihiaua Peninsular in Whangarei, creating sculptures made out of supplied wood and stone. At the end of the Symposium, sculptures are auctioned to would-be buyers who are first-time purchasers and ardent collectors. This is a highlight of the event.

Due to the location on the Hatea Loop walk, the event gained a big following from the public with locals sometimes calling in on a daily basis to see the artists' progress. Tauranga sculptor Rex O'Brien was judged the overall 2016 winner, by a panel of judges for his piece 'Kaitiaki Manu' which now sits permanently on the Loop walk for the whole community to enjoy, thanks to the Whangarei District Council, who bought the piece and had it installed.

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Deputy Mayor Sharon Morgan says, "This is such an eagerly-awaited part of the Endless Summer Festival, an exceptional opportunity for artists and the public to interact while a sculpture in wood or stone takes shape in a beautiful setting.

The Symposium makes a huge contribution to council's vision of the Town Basin as a focal point for art. It enhances our connection with the water and the land, and is a vibrant and living part of our community."

For the 2018 event which runs between March 12-22, artists are invited, to create a piece that relates to 'Journey' based on first encounters, exploring and navigation. This theme was inspired by the Sestercentennial 250th anniversary of the voyage of the Endeavour captained by Lieutenant James Cook, which commemorates his exploration of our coast and will be celebrated in 2019.

As with previous years, one piece will be selected as the winning sculpture to be installed in a public space within the Whangarei District. A second prize is being offered in 2018 to be located in the Bay of Islands to mark the Te Au Marie celebrations, the 250 year anniversary of Captain Cook's voyage of discovery. There will also be a People's Choice cash prize award.

To register your Expressions of Interest please go to www.creativenorthland.com