Josh Olley was born in New Plymouth in 1972 and currently works full-time from his studio in Luggate – a small town situated between Wanaka and Cromwell, in Otago, New Zealand.
Olley began to teach himself to carve in 1997 while he was living in Wanaka (firstly in bone) with a strong focus on the smallest of details and the overall finish to his pieces. As a result, he was soon selling through Te Papa Tongarewa Wellington, Auckland War Memorial Museum, Statements Gallery in Napier and several other New Zealand galleries.
Olley’s passion for larger stone sculpture developed naturally as his abilities evolved. He discovered the wonderful quality of the stone that was surrounding him in the lower South Island area and over the past years his work has transitioned mainly into large works. Argillite stone he particularly favours for its hard and durable quality – and its ability to hold a very fine edge and detail.
The use of the hand is a regular form he works with to present his message:-
“My work is about us/society – the environment has a reflection on our state of being and to help one, is to help the other. Hands are us – a strong form that seems to be actually present in the rocks – eager to appear and each with a unique voice.
The first stage of my sculpture is discovering the form that fits the stone, so the potential of each unique stone remains in the finished piece. This is vital to process and can take years to find.
The whole process can take many months of full-time dedicated work, however the satisfaction and strong connection to each piece develops as the form begins to take shape.” Josh Olley 2019
Olley joined ARTIS Gallery in February 2019 and sells to private collectors in New Zealand and Internationally.