2020 Dunsborough Arts Festival | Margaret River artist goes small

Margaret River artist Kashmir Rouw will try his hand in the small sculpture competition at the Dunsborough Arts Festival on the March long weekend. Image supplied.
Margaret River artist Kashmir Rouw will try his hand in the small sculpture competition at the Dunsborough Arts Festival on the March long weekend. Image supplied.

Well known Margaret River artist and stonemason Kashmir Rouw has moved away from his successful big sculpture concept to try his hand in the small sculpture competition at the Dunsborough Arts Festival.

Rouw won the City of Busselton Acquisitive Award last year in the Festival's Sculpture by the Bay, and his entry - Stone Shell Spiral - now has a permanent place on the Dunsborough foreshore at the end of Elmore Road.

Rouw said working on a smaller piece for this year's competition allowed a level of freedom not possible in his larger works.

"I can experiment more. As a sculptor, scale is an amazing thing to behold, but smaller also allows a deeper more personal connection to develop with the piece," he said.

Rouw hails from a family of stonemasons and artisans.

His ancestor Peter Rouw was a London based sculptor who exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, and was chief modeller of cameos and gems to the Prince Regent of the British Royal Family in the 1800's.

Some of his works are still retained by the National Portrait Gallery in London.

A good surf at South West beaches is more attractive to Rouw than the lights of London, but he shares a passion for art with his ancestor, working in a variety of mediums ranging from public arts sculptures, photography, painting to fabric design.

"The discovery of works by my ancestors as masons and sculptors led me on a journey working with monument projects including headstones and cemetery work. I like the idea of the sculptured monument as a place of reflection and connection within communities," he said.

"I've grown to realise that the skills I have developed are best suited serving the community with my personalised creativity as a conduit for connection."

Rouw said the Dunsborough Art Festival's Sculpture by the Bay was a fantastic event, very well organised and presented in a great location.

"The Dunsborough Progress Association is very supportive, providing a great format to display the work of artists," he said.

"The peer review by other artists and members of the public at the festival is invaluable for our progression and evolution as artists."

Rouw said the arts were essential to the health of culture, lifestyle and environment.

"The arts are also particularly important for the development and growth in environmental awareness, and in developing connections and conversations around the preservation of habitats and ecology," he said.

"Artists often feel these connections empathetically and are inspired to share this connection between the whole community.

"Sculpture is not limited to material nor scale. It asks us to see beyond ordinary ways. This is why it is such a powerful form or mirror for our own observations."

Rouw only enters a few exhibitions a year, and ensures they are all local.

"It works best for my work and really, without these local exhibitions, I would find it hard to put my work out amongst the broader public," he said.

"Winning the Acquisitive award last year at Sculpture by the Bay was a really great way to get more exposure.

"The Dunsborough Progress Association organises the event and was fantastic in support. So was the City of Busselton in the installation of the piece.

"It's always a great relief to have a large piece finally installed in one piece. It's very stressful, with one mistake unhinging a massive process."

The Dunsborough Arts Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary on the March long weekend.

It has received a record number of almost 90 entries for its Sculpture by the Bay competition.

Large sculptures will be displayed along the main foreshore and in Seymour Park by Dunn Bay Road. Small sculptures compete in their own special section of the competition, and will be displayed at the Christian Fletcher Gallery, also in Dunn Bay Road.

Free evening concerts will be held on the foreshore on the Saturday and Sunday nights.

A 20th anniversary fireworks show over Geographe Bay will begin at 7.45pm during a band break at the Sunday concert.

Picnics are encouraged, but no BYO alcohol is permitted. Profits from drink sales on-site will go towards festival costs. Food vans will also be on site at the concerts.