The Kimbolton Sculpture Festival, held earlier this month, was a rural art show with a message.

As well as bringing people together in the small Manawatū town, the Sculpture Festival highlighted the need to combat rural depression by promoting creativity.

"We were as shocked as anybody by the suicide statistics in New Zealand," said festival trustee Chris Gallivan. "But the rural suicide statistics are absolutely a shame and a blight on New Zealand."

"Sometimes being artistic and being creative is seen as perhaps calling upon aspects of our personality that the good Kiwi male is often designed to suppress. And we thought that was rubbish."


The sculpture competition is open to artists and non-artists with entries received from around the country. The sculptures are made from farm-related materials, with stunning results.

Last year's winner, Terry Hawkins, made a great face sculpture entirely from pieces of metal found in his shed.

"The eyebrows are two horseshoe rasps heated up and bent into shape," Hawkins said.

"There's lots of different types of chain, chainsaw chain bent round the other way so it doesn't cut you."

Gallavin says creative pastimes are recognised as being good for mental health.

"Having people that might not be recognised as artists or creatives, rummage around in their garden sheds or their farm-implement sheds and put something together has resulted in some amazing pieces of artwork," he said.

Now in its second year, the Kimbolton Sculpture Festival has become hugely popular, with around 3000 visitors attending despite the bitterly cold day.

"There's a misnomer about rural NZ, that somehow we're all country bumpkins," Gallivan said.

"These people are part of the solution, we are part of the solution, we should actually be talking to each other and realising we have much more in common than we do in difference."

Organisers hope next year's festival will continue to help change perceptions of the arts for a lot of people ... and help close the gap between urban and rural.

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