Sculptor (1949 -) ,  Adelaide Hills.

Text: Liz Hansman
Images: Liz Hansman

Silvio Apponyi is well known for his delightful and detailed sculptures, particularly of Australian animals. He was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1949, emigrated to Australia in 1951 and has lived at Balhannah in the Adelaide Hills for many years.

Silvio Apponyi at his Studio

“Apponyi admits his favourite medium is wood and classifies himself foremost as a carver.” (Art Images Gallery)

However his life size granite sea lion at the Adelaide zoo , another on Granite Island, his tiny bronze frogs added to the sweeping, rippling stone water features at the Burnside Village and the large and evocative “Whale Tail” fountain at Victor Harbour, just hint at the variety of media and public artwork commissions undertaken by Apponyi.

“Silvio has been sculpting for around 40 years. His style has developed …, from entirely abstract creations … to an astonishing level of detail and realism … His main inspiration is Australian fauna, and he hopes to draw attention to these unique and often endangered species. In his self-built studio, Silvio creates his sculptures in a variety of media, primarily wood, Australian granites and marbles and bronze. His sculptures range from delicate “Netsuke” style pieces to massive public granite works.” (Blog Archive and Bio-Silvio Apponyi)

Silvio won an art prize at high school then went to the S.A. School of Art gaining a Diploma of Fine Art in Sculpture. He won a scholarship spending two semesters at Munich Academy of Fine Art, then travelling in Europe and Britain studying public sculptures and fountains.

He continued to win prizes and recognition of his public art commissions all around Australia, and taking every opportunity to expand his knowledge of art, design and other media.  Some highlights are: learning woodblock print making in Japan, studying Carrara marble in Italy and exhibiting his work in e.g. Paris, Japan, Malaysia.

Silvio has used his artistic talents in many spheres, especially by conducting workshops, almost everywhere he goes. He has been an invited artist, workshop presenter and contributor on study trips to many countries, including Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Japan, Spain and China. 

During the 1990’s his work was acclaimed almost every year at the “Working in Wood” exhibitions in Melbourne and at the National “Endangered Species Exhibition” in the Adelaide Festival of Arts.  In Meadre, France, he featured in their Wildlife Art documentation Centre Exhibition.

In Australia, amongst many exhibitions and requests, especially in schools to create works of significance, he had a residency in Maroochy, carve marble sculptures for their Botanic Garden and in Mt Gambier he was an invited artist and mentor on several occasions, for the ongoing “Limestone Carving Symposium”.

In 2005 Silvio won the Peoples’ Choice Award at the S.A. Museum’s Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, and in 2006 won 1st prize in the Sculpture and Objects category.

Apponyi has held many solo exhibitions throughout the years, mainly in Adelaide galleries such as Hardy’s Tintara Winery at McLaren Vale, and the Art Images Gallery, Norwood. S.A.

But also interstate in “Bungandore Woodworks”, NSW, and galleries in Darwin,  Mt Gambier, Murray Bridge and Pt Lincoln.

Silvio is constantly in demand for Major commissions and special purchases, such as the one metre high granite ram’s head “Aries” for the University of Adelaide Waite Institute (1981).

The Adelaide Rail Terminus’ at Keswick, life sized bronze Wedge Tailed Eagle (1994) and in 2000 at Thredbo Village NSW, the life-sized bronze” Eastern Wombat and Grey Kangaroo.”

Silvio has contributed in diverse ways to augment the knowledge of art and sculpture in Australia.  He was earlier interviewed by the SA State Library as part of the “Living History” project.  He has been Artist in Residence at Immanuel College in Adelaide.  He has been on the panel of judges for the Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize.  He became a Fellow of the Royal SA Society of Arts and Vice Chairman of the SA Woodgroup.

He founded and Directed the Adelaide Hills International Sculpture Symposium which brought sculptors of renown from several overseas countries to create, share their knowledge and artistic skills here over several years.  Silvio is pleased with his granite Sculpture “Le Peleton”, carved during the 2012 symposium and now shown in Balhannah.

Silvio with “Le Peleton” at Balhannah

In April 2020 his rotating sculpture “Spiggina”, carved from Paris creek marble, is shown on his blog, sited near the cloisters at the Adelaide University.

On his current website, Silvio has photos of his busy time “Social distancing” during the corona virus. He has certainly not been idle!  He is moving rocks with his large fork lift, arranging flowers from his garden and carving delicate bird images in yellow pine and teak wood given to him in Japan. He has also completed stone sculptures of a sea lion birdbath and leaping dolphins.

Recently, in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, Silvio was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the visual arts.

Silvio Apponyi is yet another example of the artistic talent of whom all Adelaide can be proud.

Do you have stories or memories of Silvio which you can share?

Contact us at or drop into the History Centre at the Coventry Library, 63 Mount Barker Road, Stirling.