When “CityNews” arrived at Cottesloe Beach on the edge of the Indian Ocean, the weather was breathtaking, the water crystalline and all around, leading sculptors from Australia and around the world (everywhere but South America) were busy installing their work.
No one was quite as busy as the founding director of the festival, David Handley, who had started the Bondi event in 1997 and its Cottesloe counterpart in 2005, seen rushing from one sculpture to another and grabbing a bit of lunch in full flight.
Harrie Fasher from Oberon, NSW was announced as the recipient of the $50,000 Rio Tinto Sculpture Award for her abstract steel work “Transition (2016)”. The sculpture, of a horse rising out of the sand on Cottesloe beach, depicts an Icelandic myth of a horse travelling between worlds. She is the first female sculptor to receive the award.
Perfectly executed steel sculptures by veteran ACT artists Michael Le Grand and Phil Spelman were prominently positioned. Spelman, now a Sculpture by the Sea board member, credits the whole event at having given him “my first overseas sales and first overseas exhibition”.
Murrumbateman artist Stephen Harrison was spotted near the beach pavilion with “Equus Homo”, one of the bronze horse-men that have been part of his practice for the last few years. He said this was the second time he had exhibited at Cottesloe.
Le Grand and Harrison told “CityNews” that one of the challenges in bringing work to the west was the sheer cost of transport, but that in a recently arranged deal, a firm in Campbelltown had taken the works across as a job lot.
As with Bondi, China and Chinese and Japanese artists feature prominently, but there were also many entries from Europe and even one from Iran, one of the many sculptures referencing birds.
Both Sculptures by the Sea feature works that seemingly blend into the landscape like Rima Zabaneh and Berenice Rarig’s extraordinary work “Ziptide”, which seamlessly interweaves man-made material with casuarina tree.
Unlike its Bondi counterpart, Cottesloe has no cliffs in or on which to install sculptures, but the beachside parkland lends itself to whimsical works too, several of them with reference to beachside culture.
Even as the sculptures were going up, the beach was crowded with onlookers coming not just for a swim, but to enjoy this artistic twist to a very traditional coastal culture.
14th annual “Sculpture by the Sea”, Cottesloe Beach, Perth, daily until March 19.