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One of the most colorful events of the Succoth holiday week - the Volcanica 2 festival, which combined beautiful natural surroundings with sculpting in basalt - took place in Orvim Park ("Raven Park") in the northern Golan. The event was held in conjunction with KKL-JNF, the Tourism Association, Mei Eden and the Golan Regional Council. Throughout the park sculptors from Galilee, the Golan and all over Israel busied themselves creating beautiful and original sculptures from basalt. KKL-JNF staff welcomed the multitude of visitors in the KKL-JNF succa, showed them round the park and explained the best way to tour the Golan.
The visitors made enjoyable use of the picnic facilities provided in shady corners of the park by KKL-JNF, while the children clambered on the active sports installations dotted about the park. Many of the visitors spoke to the artists about their work and tried their hand at sculpting in basalt themselves, creating a cloud of dust that floated in the air.
Among the many guests in the park we met Shmuel Hazan, CEO of the Golan Tourism Association and initiator of the festival. "The festival is becoming a Golan tradition," he told us. "This is the second year it has been held, and it will continue to develop in the years to come. Raven Park, which was developed by KKL-JNF, is the perfect venue for the festival and the perfect showcase for the basalt sculptures. These sculptures are a lasting testimony to the Golan's fruitful and empowering cooperation with KKL-JNF, and a tangible example of the region's flourishing tourism and artistic activities. Raven Park forms part of the complex we call "The Northern Gate of the Golan," an area that combines tourism, restaurants, a winery and adventure sports. This area is in the process of being developed around the park to serve both as a starting point for tours of the area and as a focal point for visitors, who are attracted by the sculpture garden and its amenities, which are maintained by KKL-JNF."
We met Iris Dorfman, KKL-JNF volunteer, beside the KKL-JNF visitors' succa: "Here at this site we can feel the Jewish People's love for the Land of Israel. All the visitors who come here ask to join the KKL-JNF Green-E and get e-mail updates on the organization's range of activities. They stop here for a picnic and stay for about two hours, walking among the sculptures placed about the park and talking to the sculptors, while the children clamber around in the playground. There's a very pleasant atmosphere here. Families who come from the center of the country meet other families and they continue their tour together, even though they've never met before."
The Shmuelovitch family - Shaked, Elad, Tomer and Alon - from Petah Tikva, enjoyed their walk round the park and their conversations with the various sculptors. "We wanted to see how they set about creating a sculpture, and so we came here. We talked to the sculptors and they told us how they had selected the basalt rocks and brought them to the sculpting area, and how they had decided to create their sculpture. It's important for them to connect with nature, because the sculptures will be placed in the park, where all the visitors can see them and touch them."
Shaked Steinberg and Shahar and Ofri Avissar, from Kiryat Ata, were pleased to get the Green-E weekly e-mail and discover that such a special event was due to take place in the Golan. "When we saw that there was to be a sculpture festival in the Golan we decided to come along and see it, because it's very interesting. It's really fun here. You can play, run and climb as much as you want!"
We spoke to some of the sculptors who were working away enthusiastically, enjoying being outside and the special connection this allowed them with the public, who showed great interest and took part in the creative process.
Gili Frankel, a sculptor from the Had Ness community, wearing a protective mask to keep the stone-dust out of his face, created a work named Spiral at the event. "This is the second year that I've taken part in the Volcanica Festival. A very special type of cooperation has been created here, which allows artists and visitors to experience a genuinely direct encounter that energizes and inspires all of us. I'm proud to be part of this project, and hope that KKL-JNF will continue to bring visitors here to see our work, which has been created out of nature and is now exhibited in natural surroundings."
Shlomo Dahan, artist and sculptor from Kfar Saba: "This is a wonderful opportunity for me - to come here from Kfar Saba and be given the chance to work in natural surroundings, in a place that inspires me. This festival is a gift, and all those involved should be congratulated on it."
Shai Vaknin and Shlomo Arel, sculptors from Nahariya, told us, as they stood beside their sculpture Talking Heads, "We're enjoying ourselves here, working together and welcoming visitors. This is a rare opportunity for people to see us at work. They ask questions that lead us to re-examine our work. It's very exciting."
Varda Ben Hurin, Director of the Golan Artists' Forum in Katzrin, is the creator of the sculpture entitled Butterfly. "This is a welcome initiative that enables artists from the periphery to break into the public consciousness. In this environment, created by the cooperation between the artists and KKL-JNF, the public becomes an inseparable part of our work. This is a very special place, because of its scenery, the Hermon, Nahal Oravim ("Raven River") and this delightful park that is so beautifully maintained and cared for."
Youp de Yong, sculptor, Kibbutz Merom Golan, creator of the sculpture entitled Covenant: "My works can be found in the Golan, throughout Israel and in many parts of the world. My latest work is designed to stand in this unique park and welcome those who visit it, in rain, snow or shine. It is intended to make them think about their relationship with the written word and the Jewish sources."
Yaakov Horowitz, sculptor, Rosh Pina: "What characterizes this event is the joy of creation and the combination of experienced artists, young artists and the visitors. Master classes arise spontaneously, which is a very unusual thing in sculpture."
As we strolled among the sculptures in the park we met Danny Gannon, a farmer from Kibbutz Merom Golan, who told us of the vital role played by the KKL-JNF Orvim water reservoir, adjacent to the park. "The Orvim reservoir collects flood water from surface pools and supplies water to irrigate agricultural produce in the northern Golan. It's a very welcome initiative. KKL-JNF, by means of these reservoirs, allows residents of the northern Golan to grow a variety of produce and make their living from it."
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