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Mengler Hill: Barossa Sculpture Park Revisited

April 14th, 2009

After the some-what disappointing Step Back in Time, Rose and I decided to head up the road (and up the hill) to the Mengler Hill Lookout, home of the Barossa Sculpture Symposium. I wrote about these sculptures when Rose visited me back in 2007 and at the time was unimpressed with what I saw.

However, sometime during the year 2008 a new Symposium was held with a few more international sculptors being invited to contribute new works to the existing park. Hence, since we were so close, we thought we would have a look.

As near as we could tell about eight (possibly nine) new sculptures have been added to the park. Unusually we couldn't find any information about who made them or what each new sculpture was called (other than some pretty rough signature inscriptions into the sculptures themselves - one even had the artist's web address carved into the base).

All but one of the new sculptures were fairly simplistic abstract shapes much like the existing sculptures. The odd one out was only different because it had a simplistic female figure carved into the rock (see photo, right - Rose is the figure not made out of rock!).

In my opinion the new sculptures simply give visitors more to look at and do very little to enhance the park's experience overall. If abstract shapes and symbolism are your thing when it comes to art then put this on your MUST SEE list. Personally I'm not into it.

I know carving anything out of rock is a difficult ask but I can't help thinking many of the original masters (such as Michelangelo) did sculpture so much better with far more primitive tools than what is available to artists today. It's not like I want to see classical sculpture with realistic figures depicting bible stories, myths and legends but please, give me something with depth and detail that makes me marvel at the skill required to achieve such artistic excellence.

If you can't do that at least arrange the sculptures closer together so their combined presence makes some kind of statement as a whole. In this park the sculptures are just too far apart and don't really have any visual cohesiveness to each other beyond being sculptures carved from the same type of rock.

All of the sculptures in this park I feel I could create with a six week crash course in rock carving. It's a terrible generalisation akin to saying my kid could make that. Like the kid I probably couldn't make these sculptures, or if I could, would I think to make them? Probably not.

Perhaps the Barossa Council would like a giant stone carving of one of my cats?

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