This may lower your opinion of me but I'm just not a beach person. Yes, I appreciate the cool, clear waters of the ocean and the warm, soft white sand between the toes, not to mention the refreshing breeze. However getting wrinkled extremities, sand in the bathers and chasing a cart wheeling umbrella along the shoreline is not my idea of a relaxing morning. Thank heavens for Sculpture by the Sea; Cottesloe as it provides the ideal excuse to go to our continent's western's edge and marvel at both natural and handmade beauty.
Each year I'm sure it can't get any better, and every time I'm delighted to say I was wrong. This year had us ooohhhing and aaahhhing with honest gusto. There's no doubt about it, Keizo Ushio's large pink granite spiral (oushi zokie, mobius in space) impresses all who view it. They ask 'how?' but it's only rhetorical as all prefer to just enjoy the 'wonder' rather than the explanation of it's construction. Also impressive, albeit for different reasons, is Tania Spencer's chain of igloo shaped huts constructed by knitting (yes as in knit one, purl two) galvanized wire. Perhaps what I liked most about her you want to do what?!!(tow an iceberg from antarctica) is how beautifully constructed the work is and how it invited the children to interact happily with it. Any work of art that can engage the viewer has to get high points. Then just for fun, Len Zuks attempts to introduce Emus to the beach with his Antipodean Recruits! It might just work too, his mob of steel and rubber birds looked right at home, albeit I think they've over done the tan.
Let's face it, big is beautiful these days and these art works have to divert the viewer's attention from nature's own installation of sand, sea, lawn and tree. John Hutchinson's line in the sand sparked a lively conversation. His huge timber and steel pencil is positioned as if there is an invisible hand guiding it, and the shadow it casts provides a calligraphic line, thanks to the undulations of the sand. Another simple object that, like the humble pencil, is often overlooked in our busy world yet equally important is the sink plug. Robin Yakinthou's Unplugged, a huge red stopper and it's attached chain, dares us to consider what would happen if someone 'pulls the plug' ... I had visions of the sand falling in then pulling the ocean along with it. It's a good thing Denise Pepper & Brooke Zeligman presented large resin coated fibreglass Lifesavers, no not the bronzed anzac in mini racing bathers kind, rather the five flavours candy ones!
There are a variety of works that please and excite for as many reasons as there are artists and appreciators. There are also works that remind us how art can be used to open our eyes to the world around us. Consider Angela McHarrie & Robyn Bogdanis' instalation Red List and how it reminds us of the falling numbers of certain wild life species. Here images of dwindelling air, land and sea leaving creatures are printed on 'witches hats' used as caution markers where 'construction' is in progress. Must construction have to mean distruction?
How could I pick one work as the best and cast a vote as all are the best. And when you get tired of the sand, sea and sun, climb the stairs to the club room and see smaller works by participants that want to be taken home and admired. Excellent presentation, inside and out; excellent art all around.
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