A first of a kind symposium is taking place at the old CET compound. A group of international sculptors are teaming up with locals in the trade as well as with students for the month long event. Aside from the discussions on this particular form of art, the group is trying new techniques with new material. News Five’s Delahnie Bain was on hand as the sculptors chipped away.
Delahnie Bain, Reporting
Eight large boulders are being transformed into art by some of the world’s best sculptors, who are in Belize for a month long sculpting symposium. Canadian sculptor and project manager, Jock Hildebrand, says the international symposiums started back in 1957 and are held many different countries, but this is the first time they have brought it to Belize.
Jock Hildebrand, Project Manager, International Sculpture Symposium
“I have a small house that I built in Belize and I’ve been here for the last three years or so and I very fortunately met with Diane Haylock from NICH and we had a conversation and I suggested the possibility that this might be an interesting project for NICH to pick up. It’s about the exchange of ideas between the Belizean sculptors and the international sculptors and as a bi-product, there will be many beautiful sculptures left behind in Belize for you to enjoy, for your generation and your children’s generation, etcetera, etcetera.”
It will take a month of hard labour in the heat and dust to complete the pieces, but sculptors are excited about the opportunity to visit and work in the Jewel.
Florin Strejac, Sculptor from Romania
“It was a great experience because it’s my first time here in Central America. I’ve worked all over the world except for Australia, but this is my first time and I’m very, very happy to be here and to do work here for Belizean people.”
Colin Figue, Sculptor from England
“With the locals, it’s been great. Everybody is just really fine; all very kind and helpful. I thought it would be very interesting, very interesting so I applied for this work. I wanted to come here.”
Without ruining the surprise of the big reveal, they gave us an idea of what they hope to create from the blocks of limestone.
“It’s one of my kinds of sculptor; metaphorically speaking when the wind is blowing it’s sometimes like a piece of sheet of paper—when the wind is blowing it can break it. So that’s happening with my stone, a giant stone that I want to bend it like a titanic force that—somehow I think about this hurricane in this part of the world so it’s a metaphoric symbol of this.”
“I can’t well you too much at the moment because it’s taking shape and it’s a spontaneous work and I’m discovering the form. Each day I’m discovering what I can do. So I’m trying to find a simple form.”
“Is that the way you usually do it?”
“Very often I plan the piece beforehand but sometimes it’s not possible to realize the piece you plan so you have make some changes.”
During the symposium, nine Belizean artists have the privilege of working with these renowned professionals.
Curl Gordon, Belizean Sculptor
“I haven’t really worked stone before but I’ve seen a lot of different sculptures or ideas in stone just looking at some stones you can tell what shape or what you would do with it if I had the opportunity. But now that I’m getting the opportunity to really work with stone along with these guys, I think I’ll be furthering my opportunities or my ideas in doing what I’m doing presently with them.”
George Estrada, Belizean Sculptor
“It’s been my pleasure because I’m learning a different technique from wood in stone and I like it.”
“So you usually work with wood?”
“Yeah, I work—couple years ago I worked with George Gabb. I worked with him for about four or five years and then I went on my own and did my carving in wood. But I was always working wood and now that I’m doing stone, it’s a good experience. I like it.”
And while stone sculpting is labour intensive, Junior College student, Lesley Codd is among the females in the group who has been getting her hands dirty at the work site.
Lesley Codd, Visual Arts and Sculpting Student, SJC Junior College
“I’m going to school so I’ve done a semester doing sculptures at the Junior College.”
“So what has it been like for you to actually be in there with professionals?”
“With professionals its completely different because at school we work with manipulating stuff to look the way we want it; with this, we have this boulder and we’re grinding it, we’re hammering, we’re chiselling and it’s a completely different thing.”
“Of course the Mayans had these many hundreds and thousands of years ago but it’s been lost and now our attempt with the great help from NICH is to reintroduce that art form into Belize. To start it, this is the seed and hopefully, it will grow into a great flower.”
Delahnie Bain for News Five.
The symposium runs until December tenth and is being held under the theme “Belize at Thirty – Sculpting the Vision”. The pieces created will be put on display in different parts of the country.