Natural elements have fascinated me since childhood. In London, I brought this fascination to a career in graphic design, until an urge to expand spurred me to travel. Later, I discovered New Zealand.

In New Zealand’s South Island, Wanaka has inspired my love affair with nature and fueled my desire to create with mixed media.


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ENTRANCE MARKED: Wanaka artist Jo Woolley's concept for an entrance sign for Arrowtown is now a reality. Woolley believes the schist with gold lettering accurately reflects the town's heritage. Partly funded by Queenstown Lakes District Council and Local Businesses. Special lighting will be added soon.

Press Article #13 (16/05/02), The Mountain Scene


ART BABY: Wanaka sculptor Jo Woolley (left) and student Georgie Skeaff discuss Georgie's Oamaru sculpture inspired by a cactus at the weekend's sculpting workshop.

The air was heavy with Oamaru stone dust at
the Queenstown Art Centre when seven eager students tried their hand at sculpting under the watchful eye of Wanaka sculptor Jo Woolley. The two day course held at the weekend was organized by the Queenstown
Art Society and proved popular with both complete beginners and amateur sculptors.

Ms Woolley provided a vast array of stone working tools and her expertise to help students achieve their creative vision, coaxing interesting shapes and forms from the stone.

Ms Woolley began sculpting full-time about a year ago and said the more she followed her art, the more passionate about her work she became.

She worked as a graphic artist in London for three years, then left to travel throughout Europe on her motorbike for three months, followed by nine months backpacking in Asia.

She eventually made her way to Australia and then New Zealand, and sculpted her first piece of work in Oamaru as a wedding gift for her brother. The piece was unexpectedly bought by Oamaru council and while sculpting another piece for her brother she thought "Why don't I do this for a living?" Since then Jo has had work exhibited in San Francisco, Wanaka and Queenstown, sold numerous pieces to people throughout the World and designed Arrowtown's new schist signs.

She recently submitted a proposal to the Wanaka 20/20 district plan for a community sculpture inspired by the landscape to be built in Pembroke Park.

She has also entered a concept in the prestigious Sydney initiative Sculpture by the Sea, which could launch work onto the international art scene if accepted.

At the end of the two-day workshop, the dust finally settled and each student had at least one finished piece to take home. Ms Woolley said she had enjoyed watching people explore their creativity in 3D and hoped it would inspire them to follow their dreams.

Press Article #12 (16/05/02), The News


Wanaka was just one stop during the Brighton University graphic design graduate's three-year international adventure. Sixteen months later, Ms Woolley has gained New Zealand permanent residence and become an established member of the Upper Clutha arts community.

This year saw the effervescent 30-year-old launch her own business "Living Art", sculpture and design a venture which fuels her love for working with Oamaru stone and other medias.

An abstract creation were these three 'fin like' wooden sculptures, their shape based on the tips of flax plants and symbolic of the Aspiring National Park land mark, Black Peak. The distinctive "sandwich boards" will be used for promoting Wanaka Arts Society's Exhibitions.

The former competitive swimmer, who grew up amongst the mountains and rivers of Wales said she feels passionate about Wanaka and the growth of its talented arts community.

"I like to take people outside the square and back to nature. We are all the same regardless of what we are doing and how much we earn"

Press Article # 8 (13/09/01), The Wanaka Sun

Wanaka Snowfest Belleza Wearable Creations Show

Venue : Lake Wanaka Centre
Model : Jo Woolley
Artist : Maxene Cranston

    Press Article #7 (08/08/01), The Mirror
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