Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition Perth Western Australia

Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition Perth Western Australia

This year will see seventy works from 13 countries including, Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, USA and Australia. This includes works from 34 Western Australian sculptors. The famous white sands of Cottesloe’s beach became an open-air gallery from 5 – 22 March 2021. 17TH ANNUAL COTTESLOE EXHIBITION

Staged on the spectacular Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi is one of Sydney’s most popular events, with 500,000 visitors viewing over 100 sculptures by artists from around the world. Held since 1997, this free to the public exhibition captures the imagination of Sydney and its visitors for three weeks each spring and is the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world. The exhibition generates an almost unprecedented level of goodwill among the public as they enjoy one of the most unique events in the world.

Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition Perth Western Australia

The popularity of the Bondi exhibition led to the creation of Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe in Perth on Australia’s Indian Ocean coast in March each year. Staged since 2005 the Cottesloe exhibition features over 70 sculptures and is enjoyed by 220,000 visitors, making the exhibition as much a part of Perth as the Bondi show is in Sydney.

Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition 2021 video

History of Sculpture by the Sea

David Handley, Founding Director
Like so many other people I have always loved large community arts events like ‘Opera in the Park’ and ‘Symphony Under the Stars’, especially the way total strangers sit next to each other listening to music while enjoying a picnic dinner and a few glasses of wine. To me this sense of community is too rarely displayed or available in the modern world where there are few opportunities for seriously enjoyable cultural activities that are free and not fringe (but hey, long live fringe!).

Pretty much straight away I thought there was a need for an accessible visual arts event in Sydney but the ‘what and where’ took some time to nut out especially as I did not have a visual arts background.

While running away from the corporate world and living in Prague in the early 1990’s I was taken to an outdoor sculpture park set amongst 13th-century ruins near the town of Klatovy in northern Bohemia. Playing amongst the ruins and sculptures one night with my Czech art school friends I had my first experience of the power, if not majesty, of sculpture. From here my thoughts for the ‘event’ I might one day put on began to turn to sculpture.

Returning to Sydney, in 1996 friends who knew about my idea suggested I take a walk along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk (thanks Marie- Violaine and Matthew). All around me I saw natural plinth after natural plinth where sculptures of all descriptions could be installed. At the time I was expecting to land a major film job any day so the idea for the exhibition was put on hold until I realised the film job was not going to come through. With nothing scheduled in my life for several months, I thought I would set ‘Art by the Sea’ in motion – as I was still thinking of including paintings. It did not take more than a day to realise paintings would be an absolute liability in the wind and sometimes rain of the cliff-top walk. So that idea was dropped.

Fortunately for the exhibition, by now called Sculpture by the Sea, a number of key people fell for the idea and helped to make the exhibition a reality. Chief among these people were Anita Johnston at Waverley Council, which is responsible for managing the coastal walk, and Ron Robertson-Swann OAM one of Australia’s most recognised (if not occasionally controversial) sculptors. From the first phone call, Anita was enthusiastic and guided the exhibition through Council’s environmental, safety and crowd management issues, while Ron advised on matters relating to installing and siting sculpture in a vast outdoor environment. Of equal importance, Ron put his reputation behind the exhibition introducing many other substantial artists to sculpture by the Sea and thereby ensuring from year one that we had an exhibition of a high standard. Obviously, many more people were crucial for getting the first exhibition off the ground but without Anita and Ron, nothing would have happened.

Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition 2019 video

In the exhibition’s first year, 1997 (and still far from resolved now) our biggest problem was financing the show. Run from my lounge room and staffed entirely by volunteers, none of whom knew each other beforehand, the first exhibition started with a bank account of $100. Some of the volunteer crew were sensational and within no time we had over 100 artist submissions for the show, media interest, Council approval and a principal sponsor in Sydney Water which put up $5,000 for the first Sydney Water Sculpture Prize and also assisted with advertising costs.

Produced on a shoe-string budget of $11,000, of which $8,500 went to the exhibiting artists in the form of the artist awards, the first exhibition was hustled together in 10 weeks. Given that we had no budget for security the first exhibition had to be limited to daytime and therefore to one day only, but this had the advantage of allowing Waverley Council to see how we produced the show before being prepared to authorise us to stage a multi-day exhibition in 1998.

That 25,000 people visited the 1997 exhibition, the quality of the show and the media interest gave the impetus required for the future development of sculpture by the Sea. But given the fact, our first major sponsor dollars did not show up for nearly 12 months it was a very hard time.

For 1998 the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (SOCOG) through the Artistic Director of “A Sea Change” Andrea Stretton, commissioned five Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions around Australia for the 1998 Olympic Arts Festival. This was a huge step up for us and one which artists really responded to with over 260 sculptures being installed among five locations around Australia (Darwin, Noosa, Albany, Bondi and the Tasman Peninsula).

It was a pity not to be able to maintain each of these interstate exhibitions but without the SOCOG funding – which was fairly limited anyway – it was not feasible, though we tried to keep Tasmania running with an exhibition included in the 2001 Tasmania wide arts fest “10 Days on the Island’. I loved this Tasmanian show and it was a pity that it was not financially feasible to keep it going. At least we now do the smaller, lovely ‘Ephemeral Art at the Invisible Lodge’, so we keep our ties with Tasmania.

From 1998 on the challenge of producing the exhibition was to attempt to stay in tune with the artists and the public’s expectations while growing our financial resources. To this end our major developments have been: (i) extending the exhibition over three weeks; (ii) significantly increasing the support we provide to the artists in the form of awards and in some cases subsidies, in 2007 this was over $300,000 (thank you to our sponsors and private donors); (iii) developing ties with overseas sculpture organisations that see two dozen overseas artists exhibiting every year; (iv) developing the exhibition’s sales, which totalled over $1 million for the first time in 2007; (v) encouraging those artists who incorporate the sun, sea, wind and rain to continue working in this area by developing an Environmental Sculpture Prize; and (vi) developing our school’s education program in which over 1,600 students participated in 2007.

The most substantial development in terms of our organisation has been the establishment of Sculpture by the Sea incorporated (SXSINC) as a not for profit incorporated association to run our exhibitions. In this regard, the company that previously produced the shows has given the rights to the exhibitions to SXSINC.

Establishing SXSINC and its listing on the national cultural register has enabled us to provide our private patrons and friends with tax deductions for their donations, as well as allowing access to grants from philanthropic foundations. In this regard, we are very appreciative of the support of the Balnaves Foundation with Neil and Diane Balnaves our Bondi exhibition Patrons.

In 2005 we launched Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, held annually at Cottesloe Beach, Perth on Australia’s Indian Ocean coast. With its sunsets, long horizon and the gorgeous pocket of beach near Indiana Tea House, it’s a wonderful location.

It has been an exciting, frightening and busy time and to everyone involved and in particular to the exhibition’s staff, sponsors, Waverley Council our Board and most of all to the sculptors, thank you for coming along for the ride.

Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition 2018 video

Awards winners Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe Beach Exhibition Perth Western Australia

Perth-born cousins Georgia Taylor-Berry and Jesse Taylor were announced today as the inaugural recipients of the new Sculpture by the Sea Artist Award of $30,000, supported by Minderoo Foundation, for their artwork ‘Interacting Fences’.

The architects, currently residing in Amsterdam and Los Angeles respectively, developed ‘Interacting Fences’ across three countries during the global pandemic as they reflected on our new world of social distancing, which has simultaneously made our worlds smaller, while also expanding them. The two 10m long aluminium fences transfigure the familiar and divisive corrugated Australian fence into a mechanism of unification and shared experience.

“We are thrilled and humbled to accept the inaugural Sculpture by the Sea Artist Award. This generous award covers the costs of making ‘Interacting Fences’, and encourages us, as emerging artists, to continue our work exploring themes of social sustainability. The support of Sculpture by the Sea and Minderoo Foundation and their advocacy for the arts is truly appreciated.”

New Zealand-born, Fremantle based artist Tuinna Blackie was the favourite out of 70 artworks by Western Australian, interstate and international artists. ‘The Boab’ is a captivating, large-scale stainless steel structure sited by the water’s edge reflecting the sun, surf and sky and has attracted the attention of visitors and photographers across the 18-day exhibition.

Blackie commented on receiving the award, “I’m so grateful and thankful to receive the EY People’s Choice Prize. Thank you to EY, to Metro Steel Services for your support and to Sculpture by the Sea for giving me the opportunity to show my work. Finally, thanks to all the people who took the time to come to Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe and vote for ‘The Boab’. In my heart, I knew it was something special but didn’t realise how special.”

EY’s Managing Partner Western Region Fiona Drummond said, “On behalf of EY, congratulations to Tuinna Blackie on her brilliant piece of art that has captured the hearts and minds of the people of Western Australia.

“EY is proud to be a sponsor of this iconic event for the past eight years. Every year the Sculpture by the Sea team puts together a fantastic exhibition that is enjoyed by all, providing an opportunity for the community to open, expand and inspire their minds.

“The past twelve months have been challenging for many of us, especially the arts community. So we are thrilled to see West Australians coming out to support these local and international artists right here on our stunning coastline of Cottesloe Beach.”

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