Katoomba’s Scenic World has collaborated with local and national artists to showcase their rainforest valley with a sculptural exhibition. Sculpture at Scenic World is the green edition of the very popular Sculpture by the Sea which is on display on Sydney’s beaches in March.

We loved visiting the walkway that meanders through pristine rainforest. Our trek was made even better by the sculptures we saw on the forest floor or suspended from trees!

Twenty-six artworks are on display until the middle of March, and they vary greatly in quality, materials, size, price and meanings. In the manner of those who are accompanied with small children, we tried to extract meaning from each piece and explain it to the kids.

Sadly, with some pieces we failed. With others we simply admired the artist’s creation. Others were mystifying. What did it mean? And why did the judges include it?

The first piece is a metal bird. An emu, judging by its size. It looked a bit noisy with its mouth wide open, but we were misinterpreting the artist’s deeper message.

Hunger by Henryk Topolnicki
Hunger by Henryk Topolnicki. The artist says his sculpture is "reflecting on the sad state of the Earth and its inhabitants" as he imagines hunger and predation in the natural world.

Topolnicki’s pieces are quite natural. I can imagine them decorating our garden. But with the bird priced at $13,000, I think we’ll purchase a round-the-world trip instead.

The next installation is very attractive. And cute. Soft, round animals in shiny metal? That’s a crowd-pleaser.

Bronze Wombat by Ole Nielsen
Bronze Wombat by Ole Nielsen. The artist calls wombats "one of nature's more unusual creations".

I wondered if I could pick up the wombats and take them home with me. And then I wondered why no one has stolen them. Is there some hidden surveillance or method for securing their presence? At $16,000 for the big one and $4,500 for the baby, it wouldn’t be a bad investment.

Sehnsucht by Zeb Olsen
Sehnsucht by Zeb Olsen. The artist created this work specifically for the site.

A closer look shows that the pod is quilted together with fabric on which is written gibberishy poems in several different languages. Or perhaps they aren’t gibberish, but I couldn’t make sense of the English or French facets!

Sehnsucht by Zeb Olsen
The artist says he loves the fact that the work "looks delicate but it actually quite robust." Sehnsucht translates as "intense longing or yearning for something that is missing".

This would be quite an easy artwork to imitate, and it reminds me of the hot air balloon craft that the girls and I made when we lived in a house in a galaxy far away and a time long ago. Perhaps one day we’ll make something like this.

The next artwork along the track is around a bend. A huge, gothic-looking chandelier hangs in a natural clearing.

Convert by Dale Miles
Convert by Dale Miles. The artist draws parallels between the forest and temples and cathedrals that would house a chandelier like this.

It’s a lovely piece, but the lack of symmetry distracts me. I also wonder how well it will handle its time in the weather. Would a buyer still pay $15,000 if it has started to rust?

Next, there are the pods. Immediately they look like they suit the location and really, invite a hug. Maybe I think they’re Moomins.

Geolog Pod Forms II by Bronwyn Berman
Geolog Pod Forms II by Bronwyn Berman. Made of woven copper and river stone, the artist says the pod shape is "an encapsulation of life to come".

Although it doesn’t appear in the picture, a trio of round river stones sit to one side of the smaller pod. They belong so well with the sculpture. I like this installation very much but decide that at $30,000 for the set, I’ll have to settle for a photograph.

Bronwyn Berman’s other works look very interesting too. Her style is reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy, but more permanent.

Each artwork at Sculpture at Scenic World is labelled with a large alphabet letter, so when I see the letter F pinned to the side of the walkway, I look in the forest for the sculpture. It takes a bit of wandering around before I discover that I need to look up, directly up, above the walkway.

Above me, metal leaves are strung across the boardwalk. They are etched with geometric forms, perhaps they’re even pictures. Jess, the environmentalist with whom we’re sharing the day, wonders aloud about the impact the copper run-off would have on this pristine rainforest.

I'm Still Here by Heidi Kenyon
I'm Still Here by Heidi Kenyon. She says, "the hand cut leaves embody themes of memory, place and the shadow 'self'".

I can afford one of Heidi Kenyon’s pieces; it’s probably the only artwork here that is within our budget. One leaf is $300 if unframed or $380 framed. Do I want to build an art portfolio? Not really, but this sculpture walk has gotten me [re]thinking about investing in art.

The next piece is easy to spot, but it remains unremarkable because it blends into the background. I can’t focus clearly on the shapes to determine if the work is meaningful or abstract.

The Rod of Aaron by Michael Mandelc
The Rod of Aaron by Michael Mandelc. "For all those who wander the green cathedral, a tuning fork," says Michael.

For our family, the “Rod of Aaron” is the one who holds the stick and leads on our bush-walks. But this artwork doesn’t lead anywhere. I’m disappointed in this particular installation and wish the judges hadn’t included it in the exhibition.

Yet, in perfect contrast to the disappointment I feel with the Rod of Aaron, a shimmering rainbow box sits on an elevated platform to one side. There’s a small side-alley on the boardwalk, and it leads to a position where you can glimpse Katoomba Falls through the branches.

And here sits the Rainbow Fairy’s Tardis. It’s a mirror box in jewelled hues.

Infinity? by Cassandra Scott-Finn
Infinity? by Cassandra Scott-Finn. The artist's intention was to give participants "a unique opportunity to observe themselves as a part of this landscape".

Infinity? by Cassandra Scott-Finn
Delaney and I enjoyed walking around the box, noting how the colours changed our reflections.

This one I do want to take home. Or just have somewhere so I can gaze at it each day. Surely it makes the world a better place if it’s more colourful?

Cassandra Scott-Finn’s website shows that she is creative beyond just about anybody’s imagining. Except hers, of course.

Next on the track is the Smurfs’ flower garden. Little orange and blue flowers start popping out of the ground and collect in patches under the trees. Beautiful.

BlueM by Julianne Smallwood and Judy Paddison
BlueM by Julianne Smallwood and Judy Paddison. The title "BlueM" (pronounced Bloom) is a fun play on words (since we're in the Blue Mountains and all).

BlueM by Julianne Smallwood and Judy Paddison
There are approximately 1500 clay pieces in this installation.

BlueM by Julianne Smallwood and Judy Paddison
The artists said they visited the site first and imagined the undergrowth "coming into bloom with a carpet of flowers".

A lot of work would have gone into this installation. Its impact is in the repetition of the pieces, just like in natural flowerbeds.

Up ahead, strange women figures are suspended in the trees. It takes a while to see the front and back of each piece, as we have to wait for the wind to swing the artwork around.

Fight or Flight by Deirdre Robb
Fight or Flight by Deirdre Robb. The artist says she has "harnessed the symbolic nature of the butterfly as a representation for 'change' and linked it to various iconic superwomen".

Fight or Flight by Deirdre Robb
Words written on the back of each "butterfly" suggest alternative options to embracing stereotypical notions.

Quotes on the backs of the include “Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes”, “In the spider’s web of facts, many a truth is strangled”, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life” and “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world”. They’re great for tweeting. Stand by.

Distant Time by Greer Taylor
Distant Time by Greer Taylor. Greer states his work is "an attempt to open up space to reveal its interior".

Although I like the contrast of the bright red against the dark greens of the forest, I feel that this sculpture is lacking anything that makes it special. It reminds me of the lampshades that came through the homewares shops a couple years ago, and I was shocked to learn that Greer Taylor was chosen as the inaugural winner of this exhibition. Blah… art… what do I know? But wasn’t there something like this for sale in Ikea?

Madame Butterfly by Scott Ingram
Madame Butterfly by Scott Ingram. One judge remarks, "This piece — although made out of marble — contains biblical overtones, with references to the first man being formed from clay."

Now, this is art. It’s not my style as I’m not really a classical girl, but I can appreciate the talent that goes into creating something like this. And it will weather well — for $13,000 you’d hope so!

La Scoula by Ciro Taddeo
La Scoula by Ciro Taddeo. The artist originates from Italy, and his artwork is inspired by his experiences there.

And this is clearly art as well. Classical, yes, and exuding talent in the carving. Plus its display on the easel contrasts nicely with the huge boulder. But Greer’s piece? Puh-leeese. How is that art?

So we’ll skip all the art-talk and now have a brief interlude of spot-the-art. Because although the letter was clearly attached to the fence, it took quite a bit of looking to see the small pieces hidden in the leaves.

Heaven on a Stick by Lisa Anderson
Heaven on a Stick by Lisa Anderson. The artist created clay clouds and enclosed them in glass jars.

It didn’t help that with each rain-drop, the forest floor splats a small piece of itself onto the jars. And the colour of the golden clouds blended in really well with the yellow fallen leaves. Was that the artist’s intention? And why is her name prefaced with a “Dr” in the guide book? Can you get a doctorate in art? And who would pay $1,200 for three jars with a bit of gold-painted clay in them? Clearly, I am out of the loop.

Heaven on a Stick by Lisa Anderson
One judge says that these artworks "represent the artist's own memories implying that containing a memory is as difficult as capturing a cloud."

And this one is just too bizarre for me. A bit Roger-Rabbitish, and yet it also reminds me of the Teletubbies. Not really a good mix, methinks, but clearly, someone else does.

The Journey by Todd Fuller
The Journey by Todd Fuller. This is part of an on-going narrative that has been created by the artist in ceramic works, drawings and animations since 2009.

The artist explains, “The narrative evolves around a central character who deals with the implication of wearing a bunny suit. The guise he adopts, a signifier of difference, brings him comfort but causes further isolation. When he finds another like himself, they brace to face the world together.”

Which kinda makes sense. But it’s still weird.

Driftwood Mandala by Gai Mather
Driftwood Mandala by Gai Mather. The artist says this mandala can "represent the dreamer's search for completeness and self-unity".

Beautiful. Simple. Imitable. $5000. Any questions?

Transitory Dwelling by Kathryn Sherer
Transitory Dwelling by Kathryn Sherer. The artist says this piece is inspired by the form of the Klein Bottle and made of pressed metal leaves reminiscent of leaves fallen randomly on the forest floor.

While looking at this artwork, I could immediately work out the symbolism of infinity in its form. And it is so perfectly positioned in a shaft of sunlight that reflects off the pressed-metal surfaces. Lovely and imaginative from this artist who usually does paintings.

The Cost of Living by Simon McGrath
The Cost of Living by Simon McGrath. Simon says he has designed this artwork to confront and challenge us.

The Cost of Living by Simon McGrath
Simon says that humour is essential to engaging people on such a potentially life-altering topic.

The Cost of Living by Simon McGrath
The artist says that if current rates of deforestation persist, all forests will be lost in 100 years.

Simon McGraths’ other works are along similar lines — simple, witty and sharp. It’s the kind of artwork that makes me ask — why didn’t I think of that?

This next installation is mesmerising. It looks like fairy houses.

Homeland — Miners Huts by Kayo Yokoyama
Homeland — Miners Huts by Kayo Yokoyama. The artist designed 154 glass houses as homage to the 154 men who worked at the coal mine in this area in 1892.

Homeland — Miners Huts by Kayo Yokoyama
The artist has engraved each glass house with patterns to symbolise their home.

Each house only costs $66 each, so I thought about buying a couple for the girls. They’re perfect for imaginative play and would make beautiful circles on the grass. Or maybe we’ll just continue to create fairy landscapes with flowers.

Vivaldi's Spring Springs to Mind II by Ludwig Mlcek
Vivaldi's Spring Springs to Mind II by Ludwig Mlcek. The artist says while listening to music in his studio, "some compositions leave in my head a distinct 'imprint'" and this is the visual expression of Vivaldi's concerto.

I like the colours, I like the shapes, I don’t like the endorsement by a paint company in my booklet. Why do so many people sell out to advertising? Isn’t $8,900 enough to afford your own paint?

The next one is a favourite. It’s so organic and evocative.

Sea Pod by Stephen Short
Sea Pod by Stephen Short. The artist says he draws inspiration from forms evident in nature like flower petals, buds, corals and cell structures.

As I stand looking at it, it spins gently, changing shape from angel-wings into a flower. Just lovely. Short’s other pieces are just as beautiful. I think Sea Pod is well worth its modest $3,500 price-tag. Don’t you think it would look nice hanging in our shed? (My birthday is in June…)

A Sculptors Portrait by Harrie Fasher
A Sculptor's Portrait by Harrie Fasher. The judge explains that the two figures represent people bound up — one with a cage on his head and the other who is a dedicated work-horse.

When looking at it, I couldn’t make sense of the sculpture, but with the information provided by my handy guide (which costs just $10 from the gift-shop at the top of the mountain), I can fully understand this work. It speaks to me of a sadness that many feel because they’re enslaved by the things they own or want. Contentment with godliness is great gain.

And I was mystified when I first saw these pieces of perspex on the rainforest floor. Still am.

Amber 302 by Elianna Apostolides
Amber 302 by Elianna Apostolides. The artist says that "the way we view the world through a certain colour may change our interaction with a space".

Even the title “Amber 302” is a misnomer. In printing, 302 is the number for a dark blue colour — amber is more of 151. Unless Apostolides is more clever than I think and is deliberately labelling her pieces with a complementary colour, forcing me to think I’m looking at blue when I’m seeing amber. Hmmm. Tricky, that one.

Float by Nigel Harrison
Float by Nigel Harrison. One judge sees comparison between this sculpture and disembowelled human bodies, revealing our mortality.

This is an obvious masterpiece. It’s strong, gravity-defying and glistening in its shiny metallic contrast to the soft, natural plants around it. I like it, but not for $45,000.

Nature's Question by Keith Chidzey
Nature's Question by Keith Chidzey. Using the metaphor of a footprint, Chidzey is encouraging his audience to "actively participate in the conservation, management and healing processes that are necessary for our own individual and our world's continued survival".

Nature's Question by Keith Chidzey
The footprints hang in individual panels.

I wanted to like this. It was the second artwork that we viewed (we toured the exhibition back-to-front) and yet it feels amateurish. The message is good, but the delivery seems unworthy.

Avian Gesture 3 by Terrance Plowright
Avian Gesture 3 by Terrance Plowright. Terrance says that he has "developed a gesture of avian form and flight".

This is artwork, clearly. It’s beautiful and robust. Clearly, Terrance Plowright is a professional sculptor. His work is amazing.

And so concludes the magnificent Sculpture at Scenic World exhibit. But I’ve saved the best for last.

Colourful angophora, February 2012
None of the artworks could compete with the natural beauty on display in the rainforest — especially with this angophora!

What do you think? Do you have a favourite?