Home' Scoop : Scoop 52 Contents 40 SCOOP AUTUMN 2010
It's a terrifying experience for any artist--
standing next to your work and listening
to the trickle of uninhibited comments as
people walk past.
But Western Australian sculptor Melanie
Maclou laughs as she recounts the ordeal at last
year's Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Cottesloe.
"You do hear the odd person come along and
say, 'Oh, I could make that," she chuckles.
"And it's like, 'well, if you could then why don't
you!' I think it's a great encouragement of creativity."
Making people ponder their ability was very
much the intention behind Melanie's sculpture -- a
2.3m perspex Sand Castle that more closely resem-
bles a skyscraper.
"That was a conceptual piece of art about the
idea of potentiality," she says. "For example, how
many sculptures can you make from all the sand
encased in that perspex box?
"The answer is an infinite amount. It's as far as
your imagination and creativity will let you go."
Melanie's desire to inspire the public sits comfort-
ably within the ideals of Sculpture by the Sea itself.
Launched in Bondi 13 years ago, the project was
founded by David Handley after he left a lucrative
law career to travel through Europe.
It was here that David visited a sculpture exhibi-
tion set among 13th century ruins.
"The theatricality and the majesty of sculpture
set in an outdoor environment really took me by
surprise and I found it very powerful," he says. "I
thought 'why aren't we doing this at home?'"
With the iconic status of Australia's beaches, this
presented an obvious location for such an event.
But more importantly, David thought it would create
a laid-back, outdoor setting that would appeal to
"I just didn't believe this line about Australians not
liking art and culture," he says.
"I believed firmly that if you made it readily
accessible, people would love it. It's about taking art
to the people, not requiring them to come inside to a
gallery on a beautiful day."
Experience has certainly proved David right, with
some 500,000 people turning out to the Bondi event
annually. In Cottesloe, the sister exhibition launched
in 2005 now attracts a crowd of around 140,000
during its 19 days on the beach.The exhibition has
even spread to the international shores of Denmark,
where it was launched in 2008 after piquing the
interest of Princess Mary and her husband Frederik.
But as much as Sculpture by the Sea is about art,
it is equally driven by a sense of community.
As one of the largest, free events of its kind in
Australia, the exhibition is a sanctuary from main-
stream, consumer-driven culture.
"There is just such a pleasure in going to some-
thing where there is no commercial agenda or peo-
ple trying to convince you to buy something," David
says. "When there's no ticket to get in and the art is
not driven by a need to get bums on seats -- people
just leave those events on such a high."
The stunning location of Sculpture by the Sea
not only makes the exhibition visually spectacular; it
also ripples the creative brainwaves of participating
artists. Last year's NAB Sculpture Prize winner Kevin
Draper took out the Cottesloe competition with his
whimsical steel-forged tree, Fragment.
Although the artist often draws on environmental
themes through his work, he says the beachscape
created another dimension to this piece.
"I deliberately went for something that would
reference the horizon and the ocean," he says.
"I found by suspending the work on a tripod that
it appears to float. In Cottesloe particularly, the rock
was almost right on the horizon point and that was
quite interesting, to get this sense of height and of
the form hovering."
Through his success with Sculpture by the Sea,
Kevin has had the opportunity to exhibit at all three
of its locations.
It goes to show the opportunity for exposure the
exhibition presents for artists.
"That's something which I'd never expected
when I started Sculpture by the Sea," David says.
"For me it was all about the public, and how they
would enjoy sculpture.
"I hadn't fully thought through the benefits for
"At the very least it is expanding their horizons,
getting their name out there and adding to their
resume. But for a lot of them it's developing huge
contacts and making sales." sm
Sculpture by the Sea: Cottesloe, March 4 - 23,
Expect to see something different resting between
the seashells and sunburnt backpackers on
Cottesloe beach in March. The annual Sculpture by
the Sea exhibition is set to return, with more than
60 works by artists from around the world.A
text jessica matthews
STATEMENTS IN THE SUN: Fragment by Kevin
Draper (above) and Sand Castle by Melanie
Maclou (left), from Sculpture by the Sea 2009.
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