BIRDWOODS ARROWTOWN GALLERY
Welcome to Birdwoods Arrowtown Gallery - opened in 2020 by Jack Stobart, eldest son of Bruce and Louise, the founders of Birdwoods Gallery. Set in the heart of Arrowtown, Central Otago, this is a beautiful gallery displaying unique and hand carved stone sculptures, recycled metalwork, ceramics, jewellery, basketry, rugs, cushions and more from talented local and international artists, including Jack's own stone sculptures.
The Birdwoods Story
Bruce and Louise emigrated to New Zealand from their homeland Zimbabwe, in 2004 with their three young children, Jack, Sophie and Harry. Birdwoods originated in 1991 when Louise started a business creating metal birds out of recycled oil drums on their commercial cropping and livestock farm in the Mazowe District of Zimbabwe. This developed into a successful export-based enterprise until 2003 when corrupt politics took a grip and almost everything was lost to a lawless government forcing them to flee.
Upon immigrating to New Zealand in 2004, they quickly set about developing Birdwoods Gallery in Havelock North which has now become one of Hawke’s Bay’s most popular visitor destinations attracting over 60,000 visitors each year. It showcases a beautiful and interesting gallery, extensive sculpture gardens, a popular restaurant café and a much-loved old fashioned Sweet Shop.
Every year the Stobarts travel back to Africa to select stone and metal sculpture and any other treasures they can find. These are all displayed in the three gallery locations.
Birdwoods have also hosted two international exhibitions in Virginia, USA and at Burtown House, Ireland, as well as at several notable venues in New Zealand.
In early 2019 after six years of working offshore on luxury private yachts, Jack joined his parents on their annual buying trip to Africa, to re-discover his roots and learn about the family business. Jack stayed on to spend three months full immersion living and working in a sculpture community in Zimbabwe under the tutelage of a small group of leading stone sculptors. At the end of his time in Zimbabwe and being deeply inspired by the craft and the people, Jack purchased a container of sculpture to bring back to New Zealand for display and sale. Jack now has a unique and practical understanding of all aspects of sculpting, from mining stone, to the carving, chasing and polishing of the finished works. Jack’s time training as a sculptor has forged strong personal relationships with key members of the various sculpting communities, whilst also gaining an understanding of the practicalities and logistics of packing and shipping through the export/import process.
This experience has driven him to open two galleries in New Zealand to represent and support the same group of talented sculptors in Zimbabwe whilst also giving him the confidence to display his own work whilst carving from his home base in Arrowtown. Jack is now an emerging New Zealand sculptor in his own right.
Left: Jack in the finishing stages of a torso made from white opalstone.
Top: Jack visiting a mine on the outskirts of Mvruwi to select stone for carving.
Right: Jack and his sculpting mentors in the Chitungwiza Community Arts Centre, Harare