Artists Local

Sculptures by the Sea is Back and Better than Ever

The 2015 Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Cottesloe opened this morning, with an official opening ceremony hosted by ABC 720’s John McGlue, and opened by John Day, Minister for Culture and Arts.

Now in its eleventh year, the exhibition proudly shows 69 sculptures and artworks, 31 of those by Western Australian artists, 17 by interstate artists and 21 by international artists. 51 of these sculptures are being displayed for the first time in Australia, including Sculptures’ first ever underwater sculpture by Olivia Samec and James Moe, entitled Sanctuary.

“It’s the first fully submerged – or first fully intentionally submerged – sculpture,” said David Handley, founding director of the exhibition. “Sometimes mother nature does get the better of us.”

One of the most anticipated sculptures this year, Babies three pieces by David Černý from the Czech Republic, is also one of the most controversial, featuring three giant baby sculptures in perfect condition except for their faces, which have been branded by a barcode, such a huge social statement.

Also present is a giant pink bunny rabbit from Stormie Mills, part of the Stormie Mills project, which many Perth residents will recall were popping up all around our city throughout February.

1_3064513Stormie Mills

Most sculptures have a small sign beside them asking politely for visitors to keep their hands to themselves, but Water Dreaming, by the Warlukurlangu Collaboration, is a reinterpretation of a dreamtime dot painting using exercise balls, which is essentially a giant playground for both children and grownups alike. Trying to bounce across the entire piece will result either in great pain, or a round of applause.

Water Dreaming by Warlukurlangu Collaboration

The event also features it’s first selfie box, #selfiesculpture by Lucy Barker, a glass case with LED lighting which encourages visitors to “climb inside and become your own sculpture”. While it doesn’t look like much during the day, at night it commands the attention of the beach. Be prepared to wait in line to take your own picture.

Jo Dawkins, Mayor of Cottesloe, was thrilled about the interactive side of the exhibition. “It’s just gorgeous to see the children on the beach and interacting with some of the artwork.”


mi no 5 by Wendi Zhang

This was the first year that the official opening included a welcome to country, given by Dr. Richard Walley, who is an enthusiastic supporter of culture and arts.

“We call it cultural expression rather than sculptures or exhibitions or artworks,” he said, in his address. “It’s a part of the essence of the creator, and it’s one of the purest forms of communication we have in our cultures, and most cultures”

“That’s very important, and that’s been happening here for thousands of years.”


 Primordial by Tony Davis

The exhibit is a well-loved event which draws over 200,000 visitors, and is extremely significant in maintaining and supporting art in Western Australia. Minister for Culture and the Arts John Day today confirmed that the State Government would be supporting Sculptures for the next three years. This is good news, considering that Gina Rinehart and Hancock Prospecting have now withdrawn their sponsorship.

Sculptures by the Sea is a free event run by a not for profit organisation. Handley explained that most of the artists take full financial responsibility for their work. “There’s probably about half a million dollars of unfunded work on that beach. With no disrespect to the project that just happened, the Giants, which got media all around Australia and around the world, that project wouldn’t have happened if there was half a million dollars of unfunded work.”

$10,000, donated by an anonymous donor for the third year in a row, is presented to the winner of The Western Australian Sculptor Scholarship. John Day today presented this award to two winners, Kim Perrier (Ashes To Ashes) and Norton Flavel (Lucky Country). Norton is well known for his submission last year, Bulk Carrier, also nicknamed the ‘goon bag’.


Award winning pieces Lucky Country by Norton Flavel and Ashes to Ashes by Kim Perrier

While Cottesloe beach is usually busy and alive, this event creates a space where everyone can enjoy and appreciate art. It’s a unique and interesting way to experience art and culture in our own backyard. Or, more accurately, front yard.

There are tactile tours available, designed for visitors with disabilities to experience the Sculptures in a new way. More information and bookings for these free guided tours can be found here.

The event runs from 6-23 of March, and all information can be found on the event website.

Words By Darcie Boelen
Photo Credit Darcie Boelen

All images copyright Darcie Boelen and Rotunda Media