Natalie Stamilla was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand.
Stamilla attended an art school in Belgium as an exchange student at the age of seventeen and upon her return to New Zealand enrolled for a four-year degree at the Elam School of Fine Art in Auckland. She majored in sculpture, but also practised her hand at graphic design and painting.
Family has always played an important role in Stamilla’s life and it was her father, Geoff Dale’s iconic photograph of Michael Jones’ try at the 1987 inaugural Rugby World Cup that inspired her to create a bronze sculpture of Michael Jones diving over the try line.
Stamilla spent two years working on the project: modeling small-scale maquettes, securing support from the Eden Park Trust Board and funding from Contractors Bonding Ltd. The one and a half-times life size statue sculpture is displayed at Eden Park.
Eden Park CEO David Kennedy commented;
‘The sculpture is designed to be enjoyed by sporting fans and art lovers alike. Being able to have the sculpture on permanent loan at Eden Park means that everyone who visits the stadium will be able to enjoy it, along with the other art that is now being introduced into the stadium.’ Stamilla also created a series of maquettes, in two different sizes, of the bronze of Michael Jones.
‘For me personally it was the perfect way to pay tribute to my father’s career, and although I have come across some extraordinary challenges with this project, I feel absolutely privileged to have had such an opportunity. I have learnt a lot about myself and my ability as an artist. It has been a great ride and I just hope that the public enjoy it.’
– Natalie Stamilla.