Welcome to Birdwoods South Gallery - A new initiative from Jack Stobart, first son of Bruce and Louise Stobart, the founders of Birdwoods Gallery. Set in the heart of Arrowtown, Central Otago, Birdwoods South is an exciting new gallery displaying unique and beautifully carved stone sculptures, recycled metalwork and photographs from leading African and New Zealand artists.
The Birdwoods Story
Both from third generation Zimbabwean farming families, Birdwoods founders Bruce and Louise Stobart, emigrated to New Zealand in 2004 with their three young children, Jack, Sophie and Harry. Birdwoods originally started in 1991 when Louise, Jack’s mother, started a business creating metal birds out of recycled oil drums on their farm in the Mazowe District of Zimbabwe. This grew into a highly successful export-based enterprise until 2003 when politics took a grip and almost everything was lost to a lawless government. Upon immigrating to New Zealand in 2004, Louise and Bruce established Birdwoods Gallery in Havelock North. It is now one of Hawke’s Bay’s most popular destinations attracting over 60,000 visitors each year and offering a large and beautiful gallery, extensive sculpture gardens, well known café, ice-cream & expresso coffee shop and a much-loved old fashioned sweet shop. In 2020 Birdwoods South Gallery was opened by the Stobart's eldest son Jack in Arrowtown, Central Otago, New Zealand.
Since starting Birdwoods in New Zealand the Stobarts travel back to Africa yearly to select textiles, artwork, craft and importantly, stone sculpture. The sculpture is displayed in their two galleries as well as in the expansive Birdwoods garden and sculpture walk in Hawkes Bay. Birdwoods have also hosted two international exhibitions in Virginia, USA and at Burtown House, Ireland, as well as at several notable venues throughout New Zealand.
In early 2019 after 6 years of working offshore on luxury private yachts, Jack joined his parents, Bruce and Louise, on their annual African buying trip, to discover his roots and learn about the family business. Jack remained on to spend three months living and working in the sculpture communities in Zimbabwe under the tutelage of a small group of leading stone sculptors. At the end of his time in Zimababwe, being inspired by the craft and 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. Jack is passionate about sculpting and many of the pieces are on display in the Arrowtown gallery.
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Left: Jack in the finishing stages of a torso made from white opalstone
Top: Jack visiting a springstone mine on the outskirts of Mvruwi to select stone for carving
Right: Jack and his sculpting mentors in the Chitungwiza Community Arts Centre, Harare