The International Sculpture Symposium movement was spearheaded by Karl Prantl in Austria in 1959. This initiative grew from the need to facilitate communication and exchange between members of the international sculpture community. It was also rooted in Cold War tensions, which lent a particular urgency to the need for cross-cultural dialogue on a person-to-person basis. The first international sculpture symposium took place in an abandoned stone quarry in Sankt Margarethen im Burgenland.
Sculptors from around the world joined together to produce a permanent public artwork from local stone, a dynamic which would provide the model for many symposia to follow.
Since then international sculpture symposia have been held in numerous towns and cities around the world, including Lindabrunn, Austria and Hagi, Japan (a town known for its pottery). The first international sculpture symposia in the United States (and the first on a college campus) was in 1965 on the California State University, Long Beach campus in Long Beach, California.
The first Sculpture Symposium in Australia was held at Wondabyne near Gosford in New South Wales in 1986. It was followed by the Barossa International Sculpture Symposium in Mengler Hill near Tanunda in the Barossa in South Australia in 1988. Nine sculptures in Marble and Granite were carved by sculptors from France, USA, Japan and Australia. The site is now the Barossa Sculpture Park.
As part of the program in 2001, the Republic of South Africa War Memorial Reconciliation by sculptor Strijdom van der Merwe was created for the sculpture park at the United Nations Memorial Cemetery in Busan, South Korea.
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