Arts / ‘Proud’ public art comes to life

“Roundabout Sheep” by Roger Buckman. Photo by the late Kim Nelson.

YASSARTS’ “Sculpture in the Paddock” turns five today with its opening and prize announcement to be held this evening (September 15) at the National Trust’s Cooma Cottage, once home to the famous Australian explorer and pastoralist, Hamilton Hume.

Each year since 2013 the nearby paddocks have come alive with sculptures and nowadays, in the college precinct itself, local school students, mentored by local region artists, exhibit their work.

YASSarts is particularly proud of the event/record in bringing art out into the public arena.

“Think Tank”, inspired by Kim Nelson.

A local consortium purchased the 2014 “Sculpture in the Paddock” work, “Roundabout Sheep”, by local artist Roger Buckman, which is now installed outside Tootsie cafe and gallery on Yass’s main street.

The 2015 exhibit “Think Tank”, inspired by the late artist and YASSarts creator, Kim Nelson, is a “labyrinth” placed on the cover of an in-ground water tank, and is now a permanent fixture in the grounds used for guided meditation gatherings and contemplation.

And, on the Barton Highway near Capricorn Estate, travellers can see Melanie Lyons’ 2013 exhibit, “Forgotten”. Installed at the Jeir Creek rest area by the Yass Valley Council, Lyons’ work was made from disused car parts to provoke contemplation about the consequences of road fatalities and significance of roadside memorials.

The winner of the 2016 Sculpture in the Paddock Prize, a muscular bull sculpture titled “Rampage” by Tobias Bennett from Leeton was purchased by the director of the South-eastern Livestock Exchange, Brendon Abbey, for his front lawn.

And in the garden of Clementine Restaurant in Yass, diners can enjoy one of Al Phemister’s works from the “Dandelion Series”, shown in 2014.

Phemister and Duncan Waugh originally conceived “Sculpture in the Paddock” for the 2013 YASSarts weekend program, but by no coincidence at all the local Shire boasts an unusually high proportion of nationally and internationally recognised sculptors.

The event continues to develop. Last year the event’s organisers collaborated with Reconciliation NSW to exhibit artworks in the 2016 Regional Tour of the Schools Reconciliation Challenge for students in years 5-9 and this year’s highlight is the extension of the schools’ program to include not only Yass High, but also feeder Primary Schools from the district. The event’s developing scholarship program will be evident when the prices are announced

“Dandelion” series by Al Phemister. Photo by Camilla Duffy

Prizes are worth more than $3000 and include the “Sculpture in the Paddock” Prize, a People’s Choice Award, and the Yass Soldiers Club Encouragement award, the Tuggeranong Arts Centre Prize, Belconnen Art Centre prize, and the ANU School of Art and Design Exhibition prize.

“Sculpture in the Paddock”, at Cooma Cottage, Yass, September 15 to October 8, 10am-4pm, daily, with 8pm closure on Thursdays. Opening at Cooma cottage, 6.15pm Friday, September 15, with guest, Elizabeth Rogers, CEO of Regional Arts NSW.

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