Sculptures By The Sea

Sculptures By The Sea

Bronte Beach, Sydney


Artists rewarded as sculpture vultures help profits soar, by Caroline Marcus - 19th November 2006
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

It has become one of Sydney's most loved exhibitions, but Sculpture By The Sea is also profitable for its artists.

The outdoor gallery with the best view in town has already recouped $500,000 in private sales for its sculptors, with organisers expecting a record when sales end in a few months.

The exhibition, on the two-kilometre coastal walk between Bondi and Tamarama, finishes today.

Among the 108 sculptures are four pieces priced at more than $85,000, marked "price on application" in the catalogue, and one "in the six figures", director David Handley said.

He would not reveal which piece that was, nor an exact price tag, in case it became a target for vandals. He also did not want to affect sales because artists were still in negotiations with buyers.

The commercial boon for artists is a long way from the exhibition's beginnings in 1997, during which just $14,000 in works were sold.

"I used to joke that when we started the show, we couldn't sell anything," Mr Handley said.

"What I love about the sales is that it is a major means by which we get money into a lot of artists' pockets."

But for works that don't sell, their future was up to the artist's discretion. And it could be bleak.

"Some will go in storage, some the artists might give away to friends or family who live on farms, some, unfortunately, might go to the scrap yards," Mr Handley said.

Corporate sponsorship for the event was also up 25 per cent from last year, from $450,000 in 2005 to $600,000 this year.

Orest Keywan's metal sculpture And With A Name To Come received the $30,000 Sculpture By The Sea prize for a work chosen to be donated to a public space.

The popular melting Mr Whippy van, created by Surry Hills-based collective the Glue Society, was priced at $22,000. Mr Handley said while the piece had attracted lots of interest, it was yet to find a buyer.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's … sculpture above the sea, by Clara Iaccarino - 2nd November 2006
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Clara Iaccarino discovers the 10-year-old coastal art event is in fine form.

HAVING colonised the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, Sculpture by the Sea took to the air yesterday when a skywriter sketched artist Guy Warren's Icarus on a cloudless sky.

It was a pivotal moment for the event's director, David Handley, one that extended the definition of sculpture and provided one of the most memorable moments in the outdoor show's 10-year history.

"I don't think I've had a single experience from Sculpture by the Sea that's given me such a rush," said an exhilarated Handley. "It's great to pay tribute to Guy, to give him pride of place."

As Warren's Greek mythological character took shape in the sky, the Goulburn-born artist explained that Icarus was "about escape". "Life is about risk-taking," he said. "And so is art."

Warren is predominantly a painter and has work in the National Gallery of Australia and state galleries. His Icarus design will be re-created several times by a skywriter during the exhibition, which runs until November 19.

Continuing the tradition of artistry, this year's exhibition has again attracted a wealth of talent. There are tongue-in-cheek political comments, such as Alexander Seton's Under development, a satire of Sydney's obsession with real estate and water views, and bold steel and brass creations, including former French rugby captain Jean-Pierre Rives's Memoire d'horizon on Tamarama beach.

Ron Robertson-Swann and Lucy Vader have created a mock tunnel underneath Marks Park with coloured artificial turf, and Ken Unsworth tilts nature upside down with a row of conifers in reverse in A walk thru the trees. We spoke to three of the artists.



Angus Adameitis has a long relationship with Sculpture by the Sea as an exhibitor and crew member. With Sell and Parker as a material sponsor, Ademeitis was able to work on a grand scale to create a mammoth structure of scrap steel. Exploring parkour, a physical discipline from France, he says his work is inspired by free-runners who "scale cityscapes". The piece is named Traceur, the French term for parkour practitioners. Ademeitis says his background in skateboarding influenced the work. "If it was on concrete, you could skate it," he says.

While there is no price tag on the work, Ademeitis, who has had artist residencies in Italy and New York, would love to see the piece on the side of a freeway. "With public commissions, they don't necessarily reach out and do massive things," he says.

"This is where you get the chance to do it."


User pays

Toying with the value of public space, Louisa Dawson invites observers to buy a ticket from a parking meter to sit on a nearby bench overlooking the bay between Bondi and Tamarama.

The money raised from the meter will be donated to the Matthew Talbot Hostel (where Dawson works) and St Vincent de Paul, and payers will receive a ticket with the artist's name and the work's title printed upon it, so they are in effect purchasing part of the artwork.

"I'm suggesting we have to pay for everything," Dawson says, "and what a shame it would be if we had to pay for our public space.

"If you're poor you might want to sleep out on the park bench. If you had to pay for it, is it more legitimate?"

The meter was obtained from a Melbourne company.

Inspired by the "stupid" coin-operated binoculars at prime tourist viewpoints, Dawson set her work in a spot with a million-dollar view to lament the rise of user-pays services. "I just hope it doesn't set a precedent," she says.


It's a swell day for stormy petrels

One of Sculpture by the Sea's invited guests, Englishman Phillip King, has exhibited this work a number of times before, but never has the setting been so idyllic. "With the rolling sea behind it, it is perfect for the work," King says of his site. "I never thought much about ecology but in retrospect it fits into the doomsday dialogue in that man is destroying nature and how nature can cope with that."

One of the world's most best-known sculptors, King is represented in most public collections around the world from the Tate Gallery to the Centre Georges Pompidou. He has been a trustee of the National Portrait Gallery since 1999. He says he often has difficulty naming his work, but this title came to him easily, combining a sense of the sea, stability and a disrupted quiet.

Media Man Australia Review

Sculptures beached in paradise by Greg Tingle

Being a relative local to Bronte Beach, when invited by a fellow art lover to visit this world renown art exhibition I didn't need much convincing.

This is simply one of the world's most unique and inspiring collections of art.

The experience of witnessing such amazing art up close, at such a scenic location is challenging to put into words.

What added to the experience for me what also observing and chatting with other people who take taken time out on a glorious Sunday afternoon to see this exhibition.

The sculptures are open to interpretation, however many appear to have relationship with global warming aka climate crisis and nature tie ins. Witness the Mr Whippy van, and number of ships (including a hot pink number) and a coxman rowing a surf boat (placed in the sand).

As I walked around the 2km exhibition, the sculptures further entrenched the concept to me that the whole world is art. The landscape is art, and my companion for the afternoon was a moving piece of art herself. Many people had obviously dressed for the occasion.

Unlike some art exhibitions, this one appears to be making money for many of the artists and it was great to see many of Australia's top corporates come on board as sponsors for the event.

Sculpture By The Sea is living testament that Australia is a producer of some of the worlds finest sculpture and home to a wealth of artistic talent.

This was so much more than "just" an exhibition of sculptures. It was almost an out of body experience, and witnessing some of Australia's greatest sculptures just happened to be part of that.


Bronte Beach

Art, The Arts and Creatives