This is a guest post by Ann Paterson at Likes to Write.Each year art comes to Perth’s Cottesloe Beach in the form of the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, transforming the beachfront into a sculpture garden and showcasing the work of more than 70 local, national and international artists.
The original Sculpture by the Sea exhibition was held at Sydney’s Bondi Beach in 1997, expanding to Cottesloe in 2005 and Aarhus, Denmark, in 2009. It had its origins in the desire of founder David Handley to create a free public arts event, a goal he has certainly achieved.
The Perth community has embraced Sculpture by the Sea, with a record 215 000 people attending the exhibition in 2011, and big crowds attending this year. Visitors mingle with beach-goers, lifesavers and locals as they explore the sculptures. People pose for photographs next to and sometimes on the works, and amateur and professional photographers weave their way through the crowds and the sculptures to get the right angle for their shot.
Amid all this activity, regular beach-goers follow their routines apparently unfazed by the appearance of large artworks and the crowds they attract. Teams of junior and senior lifesavers continue their training drills, swimmers enjoy the water, and sunbathers still manage to find a space on the sand to work on their now politically incorrect tans. In fact, one of the joys of Sculpture by the Sea is the opportunity to people watch!
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, 2012Photo Credit: Ann PatersonAt this year’s exhibition harlequin figures played football while bathers enjoyed the shade created by a great swirl of aluminium, two enormous screws lay on the sand close to a huge and gleaming tap, a yellow dump truck spilled sand and a large letters proclaiming ‘OMG’ attracted a steady flow of visitors posing for photos.
Other pieces were more organic, like the copper and stone pods and string webs hanging from trees in the grassed area, or colourful glass and ceramic mosaic faces. A circle of bright red human figures crouched in a circle near the roadway, the colour echoed in a sinuous childlike figure by Chinese artist Chen Wenling, creator of the ‘red memory smile’ sculpture which was among the most popular and memorable pieces in the 2011 exhibition.
The art on the beachfront was complemented by the Sculpture Inside exhibition in the Cottesloe Surf Lifesaving Club. This is a collection of smaller works, many scaled down and slightly different versions of pieces in the main exhibition. If you lusted after one of the larger items but were discouraged by its price or size, you may have been able to find a more space and budget friendly version at Sculpture Inside.
Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, 2012 Photo Credit: Ann Paterson
Children in particular enjoy the exhibition, and the placement of art in a public space encourages them to engage, to touch and explore with none of the restraint they might (or might not!) feel in a gallery. On the day I visited, several young children were happily ensconced in ‘comfort zone’, an outdoor living area composed mainly of hessian bags, while others searched for the slugs (aka ‘the yearning’) that had invaded the rocks of the groyne. I spoke to the mother of two primary school-aged children who was surprised both at how they engaged with the art and how long that meant it was taking them to reach the water!An education program for school-aged children has been developed which includes sculpture making workshops with practicing artists, and a special ‘Kid’s Guide’ to the exhibition provided more accessible descriptions of the pieces as well as activities designed to help children get the most from the experience.
There were also special free Tactile Tours for visitors with a disability, which aimed to introduce them to a new experience with sculpture.
Sculpture by the Sea is a free exhibition thanks to corporate and personal sponsorships and the work of volunteers. Seven pieces from previous exhibitions have been acquired by the Town of Cottesloe, which means Sculpture by the Sea and Cottesloe Beach have been beautifully and permanently linked together.
Ann started blogging without really realising it when she created an online travel diary for a trip to the US in 2007. She didn't continue with that site after returning home and found she missed the experience of writing regularly. She then started Likes to Write which has the tagline "random musings on many topics from a lover of the English language". She's currently planning a trip to Europe with her parents and will most definitely be blogging about that!For more Related Articles, please scroll to the bottom of this page.
Such an interesting article. I didn't know about the history of Sculpture by the Sea, and I like the idea that daily life goes on around the sculptures, people completely unfazed by their presence :)
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