Sculpture by the Sea with 113 artists exhibiting (77 Australian and 36 international) opened along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk this week as it’s 16th year. Started as a one day event showing 64 sculptures in 1997, it has gone on to become what is now the largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition in the world.
On Thursday 18th October, founding director David Handley welcomed distinguised guests including the Premier of NSW the Hon. Barry O’Farrell to the official launch as well as artists from India to Iceland, Japan to Germany. “Like all 16 year olds, sculpture by the sea is growing up and in the current NSW Government, we have a nurturing friend and mentor – the type every 16 year old needs.”
“It is wonderful to see sculpture by the sea flourish because our promising early years were followed by hard times as the previous State Government ignored the potential of Sculpture by the Sea and its popularity with the people of this state. To you Premier and Minister we say thank you and we look forward to growing with your support. Sally Betts – we love you! Great Mayor, friend and supporter.” Handley continued with his thanks to council staff and park staff, sponsors and donors – who are fundemental to the staging of the show as a free event and providing support to the sculptors. His thanks was also extended to the exhibition staff, site crew and hundreds of volunteers.
“Most importantly this exhibition is for YOU SYDNEY. Welcome, come along, and enjoy.”
As I arrived for the launch at Marks Park Tamarama for the 2012 launch of Sculpture by the Sea, I was entranced by the sound of bamboo wind chimes. Later I had the opportunity to speak with two of the local artists from the Cave Urban collective about their art installation mengenang (memory.) Lachy Brown and Juan-Pablo Pinto explained that the work is a meditation in memory of the Bali bombing victims – that’s why there are 222 poles. Walking up the hill through the installation is somehow uplifting. It was planned that way, with all the poles musically tuned, and the installation moving from (an unsettling) D Minor Diminished, through D Minor, to a more positive D Minor Sustained. The air sparkled with sound. Q. What happens when there is no wind? A. There is silence.
The ancient metaphor of Tasmanian artist Marcus Tatton also resonated with me. Standing beside his pithoi (plural for the Greek vessel pithos) Tatton explained that the work symbolises our measurement of success in society. Historically he explained the amphora showed how much we were worth: how much grain or oil we could store. The vessel was a status symbol. In the use of concrete he has brought a contemporary measurement of success to his 21st century sculpture. I beams as a structural support add another dimension of modern western civilisation.
“Sculpture by the Sea has become of Sydney’s most loved cultural events. We are pleased to provide the funds for this prize and think it’s wonderful that the winning sculpture will be placed in the Royal Botanic Gardens or The Domain each year for Sydney-siders and visitors to enjoy all year round,” The Balnaves Foundation founder, Neil Balnaves said.
The Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize of $70,000 was award this year to USA artist Peter Lundberg. His sculpture barrell roll was created on location on the Bondi cliffs. Working with the elements is a challenge Lundberg explained, though it is also part of its essence. He describes this work a “raw, direct, almost crude yet sophisticated – an inspiration to nature and civilisation.” He wanted the opening to provide a view of all the elements: “sea, sky, land.” It’s a very direct process; the form is cast in the earth. In fact, the earth itself creates part of the sculpture.
“It is what it is,” Lundberg said.
“We think Peter’s work is both ugly and beautiful, the rawness is what really speaks out,” artist Marcus Tatton confided.
Sculpture by the Sea
Marks Park Fletcher St Tamarama NSW Australia
until 4th November 2012.