The public will be able to see the sculptures of almost 20 artists from around the world take shape and transform right in front of them from tomorrow.

Rotorua's Sculpture Symposium opens on Friday and carvers work through the weekend and following week to complete their sculptures.

It is free for the public to watch and takes place at the Arts Village.

On November 25 tools are laid down and judging begins for the supreme award winner, who receives $10,000.

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The majority of carvers taking part as finalists are from New Zealand, but also include Thomas Luescher from Switzerland and Iranian artists Maryam Sharifi Shoorijeh, Seyyad Hosseini and Amin Balaghi.

The finalists will spend 10 days carving and sculpting pieces relating to this year's symposium theme, Ngā Wai o Rotorua – The Waters of Rotorua.

Symposium organiser and Rotorua Lakes Council public art adviser Marc Spijkerbosch said this year there was a great mix of returning artists and new arrivals.

He said it was always fascinating to watch sculptors create works of art from giant boulders, blocks of stone and macrocarpa logs.

"The event is only held every two years, so it's an awesome opportunity to witness some very talented artists working against the clock in a variety of materials."

He said this would be the second time the symposium had hosted international sculptors.

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"A symposium is all about the sharing of ideas and techniques amongst artists, so it's great to have such a wide range and depth of talent arriving this year."

Spijkerbosch said the judges were leaders in the sculptural and carving fields, representing both traditional and contemporary styles.

He said they would be looking for such things as concept, sculptural form, technique, originality and suitability for the public domain.

The winning piece becomes a permanent part of Rotorua's public art collection.

The remaining artworks will be placed in the Sulphur Lake Sculpture Trail for people to enjoy for years to come.

Claire Sadler carving Interconnection in the 2016 symposium. Photo / Supplied
Claire Sadler carving Interconnection in the 2016 symposium. Photo / Supplied

The sculptors choose the material they carve with from Ōamaru stone, Taranaki andesite, or macrocarpa, with some combining several of the materials into their final design.

Local sculptor Trevor Nathan is the winner of the 2016 Rotorua Sculpture Symposium.

He said he was looking forward to taking part with returning artists, as well as the international artists, and sharing ideas with sculptors.

Nathan has been a sculptor since about 2000.

"Particularly with stone and timber you are taking material away. What I enjoy is being able to see and then produce something with form and substance."

He encouraged the Rotorua public to check out the symposium and the progress of the sculptures because the works being produced were to beautify the Government Gardens.

There is also a tour of Nathan's Sculpture Garden happening, organised by Friends of the Museum and free of charge.

It is on Sunday at 3pm at 105b State Highway 30, Tikitere.

He said he was looking forward to meeting some of the public and art lovers.

2018 Sulphur Lake Sculpture Symposium finalists
Trevor Nathan - Rotorua
Jamie Pickernell -Rotorua
Thomas Luescher - Switzerland
Maryam Sharifi Shoorijeh - Iran
Anna Korver - Taranaki
Jocelyn Pratt - Thames
Andrew Deadman - Auckland
Simone Jacquat - Wanganui
Oriah Rapley - Taranaki
Rory McDougall - Hokitika
Steve Molloy - Taranaki
Seyyad Hosseini - Iran
Amin Balaghi - Iran
Iwi Le Comte - Rotorua
Peter Akurangi - Rotorua
Natanahira Te Pona -Auckland
Bodhi John Vincent -Kapiti Coast
Claire Sadler - Hastings