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Stephen Newton genius loci


Stephen Newton genius loci Essay by Elizabeth Bates


Stephen Newton genius loci First published in Australia in 2012 by artHIVES 85 Doggett Street Newstead, Queensland 4006 www.arthives.com info@arthives.com Copyright 2012 © artHIVES holdings PTY LTD Text Copyright 2012 © Elizabeth Bates Images Copyright 2012 © Stephen Newton www.NEWTONsculpture.com www.geniuslocibook.com ISBN 978-0-9871970-4-7 Printed in USA All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher. title page image anticuus carduus 2012 spotted gum 50 x 230 x 23 cm dustjacket front image bulbus I 2012 turpentine hardwood and steel dustjacket verso image nexus IV 1991 reclaimed wood and steel 150 x 120 x 140 cm (Collection of Queensland Art Gallery)


contents

6

impetus 78

locale 102

interior 118

response


6


impetus noun: impulse; stimulus, the force that sets a body in motion studio work

For Stephen Newton the making of sculpture has always been about process and change. The techniques he uses in the studio emulate natural changes and are inspired by the processes that nature offers, its multiple rhythms and uncompromising forces. His sculptures respond to patterns in geology, biology and geography, rising upward as totemic forms or settling horizontally into the earth. An ongoing understanding of the relationship between man and nature is inherent in Newton’s sculpture. Forms stand in humanoid groupings offering tactile experiences at human scale. The mark of the artist is felt over every surface, whether honed by tool, machine or fire. Newton draws almost entirely from natural materials. Wood, whether found or freshly milled, has been his constant companion, only occasionally accompanied by metal and more recently stone. It is through these elements of the natural world that Newton shapes and reconnects to his contemporary environment. The process is deliberate on many levels as raw materials are chosen, considered, transformed and relocated to permanent or transitory sites.


As a young artist, Newton wrestled and attacked the wood, but now, twentyfive years on, he is more sympathetic and aware of its connection to the land and the innate history the material offers. He continues to be physically connected to his process and chooses to work primarily in Australian hardwood, some of the hardest wood in the world, forming works to the scale of the original timber to respect and retain its essential life force. It is the process of making sculpture that engulfs Newton’s psyche; it is of the real world and cannot be hurried. It takes time to work wood or stone as each material sets its own pace. It is this connection to the day by day that has continued to captivate the maker. In Newton’s creative process the materials are affected by abrasion and repetitive mark making which gradually accumulate as indicators of the passing of time. He is interested in the history he leaves as the maker of the work. Surface and texture are essential elements of consideration. Blackened, velvety exteriors are drawn out, as in nature, with fire, an essential element which Newton harnesses and manipulates. However the use of fire is not only about contrasts and changing vegetable into mineral, but also the positive and negative associations it has for us as humans. Although a thoughtful choice of materials and process has remained a constant, Newton’s work has never lapsed into a stasis, the roughly hewn configurations of exuberant youth have morphed into elegant gestures that occupy and denote the natural environment. These sculptures inhabit space, yet encapsulate space. For the viewer they become a unifying element, both within and without. The sculptures reveal a poetic beauty, but are not precious. They are robust yet warm, strong yet vulnerable. They are forms that are imperfect, transient and incomplete. Newton is not interested in formal heroic statements. Just as change is inevitable within the natural world, his sculptures project a calm understanding and acceptance of impermanence.


final year graduate work 1987 queensland college of art (previous page) nexus IV 1991 reclaimed wood and steel 150 x 120 x 140 cm collection of queensland art gallery

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fulcrum

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1987 reclaimed wood and wax 163 x 78 x 46 cm


untitled

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1987 reclaimed wood 421 x 75 x 73 cm


with open mind

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1987 reclaimed wood and steel


bring to bear

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1990 reclaimed wood and steel 132 x 35 x 35 cm


solo exhibition

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1995 doggett street studio


untitled

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1995 spotted gum, huon pine and brass 63 x 31 x 7 cm


untitled

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1995 mangrove and huon pine 63 x 31 x 7 cm


(top) staff 1995 found wood and huon pine 12 x 238 x 12 cm (bottom) purge 1995 found wood 43 x 222 x 51 cm

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(left) crook 1995 found wood 182 x 21 x 51 cm (right) ebb 1995 found wood 167 x 89 x 148 cm

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darwin... a series of adaptations 1997 found wood and steel doggett street studio

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darwin... a series of adaptations 1997 found wood and steel doggett street studio

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untitled

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1997 found wood and steel 28 x 53 x 6 cm


darwin... a series of adaptations 1997 found wood and steel doggett street studio

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can you hear its tender frame, creaking from beneath the waves ?

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1997 reclaimed wood doggett street studio


fate, up against your will 1997 red ironbark and camphor laurel 268 x 55 x 28 cm

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(left) below the heavens you know so well 1998 ironbark 321 x 54 x 34 cm (right) memory 1998 ironbark 325 x 41 x 35 cm

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below the heavens you know so well 1998 ironbark 323 x 41 x 33 cm

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the tree begins to breathe

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1998 river red gum and camphor laurel 367 x 37 x 28 cm


where does this go, surely not with my soul ? 1999 spotted gum, charred wood and brass 182 x 234 x 50 cm

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continuum 2001 river red gum 245 x 43 x 8 cm

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vestige 2002 turpentine hardwood and camphor laurel 278 x 134 x 72 cm

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vestige 2003 ironbark and camphor laurel 223 x 89 x 67 cm

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untitled 2002 camphor laurel 51 x 45 x 6 cm

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groundswell 2004 river red gum 254 x 48 x 8 cm each

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pinnacles 2007 forest red gum 238 x 25 x 25 cm each

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lobus germinis 2010 spotted gum 123 x 61 x 61 cm and 265 x 66 x 35 cm

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bulbus I 2012 turpentine hardwood and steel 38 x 128 x 38 cm

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infans 2012 turpentine hardwood, ironbark and steel 195 x 75 x 30 cm

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bulbus germinis 2012 spotted gum and steel 144 x 178 x 28

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bulbus II, III and IV 2012 spotted gum and steel

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bulbus IV 2012 spotted gum and steel 23 x 124 x 24 cm

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bulbus III 2012 spotted gum and steel 22 x 129 x 23 cm

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bulbus V 2012 spotted gum and steel 45 x 155 x 15 cm

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locale noun: a place or locality, with reference to events or the setting connected with it sculpture that draws on a specific location, its histories and its people

A collection of linear wooden structures sit silently on a bleak undulating plain. Deliberately placed in this location by the artist, they mark the landscape defiantly, but are perfectly in tune with their new found environment. Almost gestural in form they would emit a sense of complete frailty if not for the magnificent golden tips that sit proudly atop each charred staff, pointing as if reverentially towards the open sky. Newton has worked closely with nature on many occasions to produce site centered sculpture. These sculptures embody a philosophy of returning materials to their natural home with a breath of new life. There are times when he selects the location and others when a place seeks him out. Embedded in this philosophy is a desire for the sculptures to develop a symbiotic relationship with the chosen site, and to explore the opportunity for mutual benefit as they gracefully age together. Placed on site by the sculptor to respond to the landscape and environmental space, there is always a chance a sculpture will not breathe and feel out of place. It is in the external, natural world that the resolve is truly tested. Nature is free to unleash measured amounts of its fury – sun, wind and rain – that will fade, age and erode. Change becomes inevitable. Many of these sculptures are totemic is scale, but are meant for human acceptance and interaction. Working with repetition and multiples is an intentional humanising strategy to break down the heroic barriers of size and scale. When sited, these sculptural forms provide fresh and sometimes surprising readings of landscape and locality.


imprints, journeys and connections 2003 carved stone and ochres myall park botanical garden residency in collaboration with Indigenous artist Dr Pamela Croft (previous page) supplicant 2010 charred wood and ceramic 245 x 25 x 25 cm each 2010 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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imprints, journeys and connections 2003 carved stone and ochres myall park botanical garden residency in collaboration with Indigenous artist Dr Pamela Croft

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imprints, journeys and connections 2003 carved stone and ochres myall park botanical garden residency in collaboration with Indigenous artist Dr Pamela Croft

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delegation 2006 camphor laurel 212 x 25 x 25 cm each approximately casuarina sculpture walk new south wales

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delegation 2008 ironbark 254 x 45 x 45 cm each 2008 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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delegation 2008 ironbark 254 x 45 x 45 cm each 2008 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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delegation 2008 ironbark 254 x 45 x 45 cm each 2008 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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supplicant 2010 charred wood and ceramic 245 x 25 x 25 cm each 2010 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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supplicant 2010 charred wood and ceramic 245 x 25 x 25 cm each 2010 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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supplicant 2010 charred wood and ceramic 245 x 25 x 25 cm each 2010 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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supplicant 2010 charred wood and ceramic 245 x 25 x 25 cm each 2010 palmer sculpture bienniale south australia

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interior adjective: of or pertaining to that which is inside sculpture configured or installed indoors

For an artist who collaborates with and works within nature so willingly, the confinement of internal space offers many challenges. Processes are trimmed back and the relationship of artist to materials deemed more immediate and personal. Scale is no longer an absolute, but part of a delicate set of dialogues related to potential multiple futures. There is indeed a sense of the ‘pared down’ in Newton’s sculpture made for the interior or gallery space. Shapes remain as if drawn by nature, its rhythms expressed with repetitive energetic line, yet there is a sense of containment. The wood is given a new dimension, often no longer in the round, but shaved into slices for presentation in the relief or carved into configurations that reflect ancient forms. Surface and texture are of paramount concern for Newton when forming work for interior spaces. Time is invested in finishes that are open to intimate encounters and immediate interaction. Sheltered from the ravages of the external world, most will attain an immaculate and respectable dotage, with change perceived as an unexpected or distant dilemma. It is in the placement of an interior work that a sense of contrast is most evident. Unlike the friendly acceptance of natural sites these sculptures often appear combatant within their environments. Organic materials face off with fabricated iron and steel, while free form shapes taunt the highly considered geometric constructions that contain them. Despite apparent indifference, there remains an embedded interconnectedness forged by the maker that seeks to enhance the relationship between the built environment and human nature.


elevation 1997 charred wood and huon pine 28-47 cm x 14-20 cm bovis lend lease brisbane (previous page) headland 2007 camphor laurel 89 x 245 x 8 cm wadi 2007 camphor laurel 246 x 86 x 8 cm australian art resources melbourne

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sanctum 1999 grey gum 213 x 103 x 121 cm spicers peak lodge scenic rim queensland

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pinnacles 2000 grey gum 295 x 35 x 34 cm each ernst & young brisbane

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wadi 2008 camphor laurel 223 x 876 x 12 cm st hilliers group melbourne

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headland 2007 camphor laurel 89 x 245 x 8 cm wadi 2007 camphor laurel 246 x 86 x 8 cm australian art resources melbourne

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pinnacles 2008 forest red gum 238 x 25 x 25 cm each fkp property group melbourne

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mount coolum dreaming 2005 camphor laurel hyatt regency coolum queensland

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response noun: an answer or reply, as in words or in some action sculpture which responds to a clients brief for a public space

Unlike sculpture made freely in the studio, those made in response to an external direction present new challenges and opportunities for Newton. Often requested for a specific audience and designed to an imposed philosophical brief, the commissioned work can stretch and test the artist. Sculpture commissions have been the catalyst for the introduction of new materials, such as stone, into Newton’s working processes. Although he carved early pieces in softer sandstone using techniques previously applied to wood, the incorporation of materials such as granite - solid, tactile and embedded with ancient histories - has provided durable solutions for specific projects. Recent collaborations with an artisan stone mason has allowed the hand of the artist to extend into a new dimension. For Newton, commissioned sculpture, whether installed in existing or newly configured environments, presents the clean slate on which to map and reclaim spaces for enhanced human interaction. If successful they grow into community markers and connectors, places to meet, reflect and contemplate the many stories of the past, as well as casting an eye towards the future. Processes are expanded to ensure a thorough understanding of each allocated site. Personal explorations of physical and emotional connections to place provide the raw stimulus for conception and it is the sensitive articulation of these discoveries that direct future interactions.


vista 2001 ironbark 456 cm x 234 x 54 cm access education brisbane (previous page) boolka booangun-calling the dolphins 2005 turpentine hardwood 521 x 324 x 276 cm wynnym brisbane

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boolka booangun – calling the dolphins 2005 turpentine hardwood 521 x 324 x 276 cm wynnym brisbane

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boolka booangun – calling the dolphins 2005 turpentine hardwood 521 x 324 x 276 cm wynnym brisbane

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bullenah ballina 2007 river red gum 213 x 178 x 45 cm ballina fair new south wales

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aqueous interior 2007 granite 30-40 x 80-120 diameter and turpentine hardwood 600 x 35 cm diameter prince charles hospital brisbane

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aqueous interior 2007 granite detail prince charles hospital brisbane

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pinnacles and reflections 2008 sandstone 54 x 156 x 189 cm and turpentine hardwood 600-800 x 45 x 45 cm brisbane north institute of tafe caboolture campus

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pinnacles and reflections 2008 turpentine hardwood 600-800 x 45 x 45 cm brisbane north institute of tafe caboolture campus

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pinnacles and reflections 2008 sandstone 54 x 156 x 189 cm

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rain pools 2008 granite 30-40 x 80-200 cm clare holland house canberra

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rain pools 2008 granite 30-40 x 80-200 cm clare holland house canberra

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rain pools 2008 granite 30-40 x 80-200 cm clare holland house canberra

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rain pools 2008 granite 30-40 x 80-200 cm clare holland house canberra

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the clayton pinnacles 2008 granite 300-450 x 45 cm square clayton community centre victoria

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the clayton pinnacles 2008 granite 300-450 x 45 cm square clayton community centre victoria

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the melton pinnacles 2010 sugar gum 450 x 122 x 145 cm melton shire council victoria

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the melton pinnacles (detail) 2010 sugar gum 450 x 122 x 145 cm melton shire council victoria

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Stephen Newton

www.newtonsculpture.com Education

1994 1987 1985

Master of Arts, Queensland University of Technology Graduate Diploma in Teaching, Griffith University, Queensland Bachelor of Arts Fine Art, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University

Selected Sculpture Commissions

2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2001 2000 1997 1999 1995 1994

Anticus Lobus, City of Mount Gambier, South Australia The Melton Pinnacles, Melton Shire Council, Victoria The Pinnacles, FKP Property Group, Melbourne Rain Pools , Clare Holland House, Canberra, ACT The Clayton Pinnacles , Clayton Community Centre, Melbourne Wadi, St Hilliers, 460 Bourke Street, Melbourne Pinnacles and Reflections, Brisbane North Institute of TAFE, Caboolture, QLD Aqueous Interior, Prince Charles Hospital Brisbane Bullenah – Ballina, Ballina Fair Shopping Plaza NSW Wadi, The Byron at Byron Resort Spa and Conference Centre, Byron Bay Mount Coolum Dreaming, Lend Lease Hyatt Regency Coolum Bulka Booangun – Calling the Dolphins, Wynnum Jetty foreshore, QLD Pinnacles, Cooloola Shire Public Gallery, Gympie, QLD Connections to Community, Charters Towers Community, QLD. Public Art Development Project with Indigenous artist Dr Pamela Croft Meeting Place, Coolum Sea Resort and Public Spa, QLD Journeys and Connections, Myall Park Botanical Garden, QLD Collaborative residency with indigenous artist Dr Pamela Croft Memory Poles, Surat Aboriginal Corporation, QLD. Collaborative Artist in Residency with Indigenous artist Dr Pamela Croft Vista, Queensland Government, Access Education, Brisbane Pinnacles, Ernst & Young, Waterfront Place, Brisbane Elevation, Bovis Lend Lease, Brisbane Chimney Stacks & Flow Chart, Queensland Cement and Lime Limited Crook, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane Meeting Place, Gold Coast Arts Centre, Outdoor Sculpture Walk


Selected Solo Exhibitions

2012 2009 2006 2004 2002 2000 1999 1998 1997 1995 1994 1993 1990

Figura Reverto, Doggett Street Studio, Brisbane Terra Silva Saxum, Doggett Street Studio Pinnacles, Southbank Institute of Technology Gallery Sculpture and Works on Paper, Doggett Street Studio Groundswell, Doggett Street Studio Landmarks, Doggett Street Studio Intergrowth, Bond University, Gold Coast Spirit of Place, Doggett Street Studio Recent Sculpture and Catalogue Launch, Doggett Street Studio The Eternal and the Ephemeral, Doggett Street Studio Darwin... a series of adaptations, Doggett Street Studio Recent Sculpture, Doggett Street Studio Fulcrum – A Pivotal Survey, Gold Coast Arts Centre Recent Drawings, Queensland University of Technology Sculpture & Works on Paper, Savode Gallery, Brisbane

Selected Group Exhibitions

2010 2009 2008 2007 2005 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1995 1994 1993 1992

Palmer Sculpture Biennial, Palmer Project, South Australia Montalto Sculpture Prize, Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, Victoria Montalto Sculpture Prize, Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, Victoria Palmer Sculpture Biennial, Palmer Project, South Australia Hinterland, Palmer Biennial Touring Exhibition, South Australia Montalto Sculpture Prize, Montalto Vineyard and Olive Grove, Victoria Sculpture 2007, Australian Art Resources, Melbourne Victoria East Coast Sculpture Show, Thursday Plantation, Ballina, New South Wales Strand Ephemera, Townsville The Colours of Peace and Harmony, Riverside Centre Brisbane A Day in the Country, Butterfactory Studio and Contemporary Artspace, Dayboro East Coast Sculpture Show, Thursday Plantation, Ballina, New South Wales Awoonga Immersion, Gladstone Regional Gallery, Queensland The Toowoomba Biennial Acquisitive Award and Exhibition, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales Sculpture by the Sea, Noosa Heads National Park, Queensland East Coast Sculpture Show, Thursday Plantation, Ballina, New South Wales Grounding, Smith and Stonely on Stratton, Brisbane Gold Coast International Sculpture Award, Gold Coast Council Chambers Artists at the BIA, Old Queensland Museum, Brisbane Australian Universities Exhibition of Visual Art, Australian High Commission, Singapore Sculpture Satellite Exhibition, Brisbane City Centre Happenstance, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, Brisbane Duets, Gold Coast City Art Gallery Sculpture in Wood, Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane Survey Show, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane


1991 1990

Survey Show, Savode Gallery, Brisbane From the Landscape, Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane Gold Coast Invitation Art Prize, Gold Coast City Art Gallery

Selected Awards & Grants

2010 2008 2005 2004 2001 2000 1998 1997 1993 1990 1989 1988

Career Development Grant, Arts Queensland First prize, Palmer Sculpture Biennial, Adelaide South Australia NSW TAFE Arts Prize, Thursday Plantation East Coast Sculpture Show, Ballina New South Wales First Prize, Casuarina Sculpture Walk NSW First Prize, Thursday Plantation East Coast Sculpture Show First Prize, Gold Coast Global Sculpture Award Site Specific Award, Sculpture By The Sea, Noosa, Queensland First Prize, Thursday Plantation East Coast Sculpture Show Acquisitive Prize, Stanthorpe Art Gallery, Queensland. Professional Development Grant, Queensland Office of Arts and Cultural Development First Prize Sculpture, Redland Art Awards First Prize, Gold Coast International Sculpture Award Professional Development Grant, Queensland Office of Arts and Cultural Development First Prize, Gold Coast Sculpture Award Acquisition Prize, Conrad Jupiters Art Prize, Gold Coast Art Gallery First Prize Sculpture, Caloundra Art Awards, Sunshine Coast Palmer Tube Mills Award for Sculpture Churchie Exhibition of Emerging Art, Brisbane Overall Winner, Churchie Exhibition of Emerging Art, Brisbane UTA Airlines Sculpture Award, French Pavilion World Expo ‘88, Brisbane

Sculpture in Permanent Collections Artbank, Sydney, New South Wales Queensland Art Gallery Noosa Regional Gallery, Sunshine Coast, Queensland Stanthorpe Art Gallery, Queensland Gold Coast City Art Gallery Brisbane City Gallery Commonwealth of Australia, Federal Law Courts, Brisbane Thursday Plantation Sculpture Park, Ballina, New South Wales Queensland Cement and Lime Limited Wesley Private Hospital, Brisbane Australian Catholic University, Brisbane Anglican Church Grammar School, Brisbane Transfield Corporation, Brisbane Savode Gallery, Brisbane Prince Charles Hospital, Brisbane Mudanjiang Cardiovascular Hospital, China.


Thankyou: Elizabeth Bates and Kellee Uhr

Photography: front cover, title page and pages 65 to 77, John Downes back cover and pages 8, Queensland Art Gallery Design and Layout: S. Whitaker, artHIVES www.arthives.com Font: Corbel www.NEWTONsculpture.com


for purchasing information visit www.geniuslocibook.com


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Stephen Newton - genius loci