Six Stunning Works to Ogle at Sculpture by the Sea 2019
Here are some of the best pieces to watch out for in the outdoor exhibition's 23rd year.
October 25, 2019
Eye-catching and thought-provoking art has once again descended upon Sydney's coastline, with the 23rd Sculpture by the Sea exhibition kicking off today. Stretching along two kilometres from Bondi to Tamarama Beach, you'll find 111 sculptures from 19 countries. The exhibition is free, and you can catch it from October 24 through November 10.
This year, you'll find sculptures by ten Czech and Slovak artists marking the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a series of protests that led to the fall of communism in what was then Czechoslovakia, and the collaborative Succah by the Sea, which sets out to re-imagine the Jewish Festival of Succot. You'll also be able to hear directly from the artists every Saturday and Sunday.
Among the 100-plus incredible installations, and the 450,000 people expected to visit the spectacle over the 18-day exhibition, it can be tricky to know where to look. And, considering this might be the last year Sculpture by the Sea is held in Bondi, it would be tragic if you missed any of the best pieces. Here are our pick for this year's highlights.
WANG KAIFANG: THE STATUE OF MAD LIBERTY
Made of 24-karat gold (and copper and stainless steel, but that's not quite as fancy), Chinese artist Wang Kaifang's The Statue of Mad Liberty reflects the chaotic nature of the modern world. The distorted figure represents the way freedom fills us with joy, before the panic sets in. It is meant to encompass all that goes into society, humanity, science and art. The swirling gold piece sits well among the artist's numerous previous works — Kaifang is considered one of China's most influential cross-disciplinary artists, and while his portfolio covers everything from architecture and fashion, through to painting and photography, shimmering metallics and abstract shapes are recurring motifs.
ANGELA FEMIA, CAROLYN HUNTER, PAULINE PLUMB AND CRISTINA HARRIS: OUT OF REACH
This is an artwork you could easily miss or dismiss as part of the scenery on a particularly bright day, but we think it's one you should keep an eye out for. A team of four local artists — all graduates of the Sydney College of the Arts and regular collaborators — is responsible for these quaint ceramic houses, nestled among the rocks alongside the trail. The tiny white homes of all different shapes and sizes were inspired by the current nationwide angst about the unattainability of the Australian Dream — something a lot of millennials can certainly relate to. Artists Angela Femia, Carolyn Hunter, Pauline Plumb and Cristina Harris created Out of Reach as a playful take on the pursuit of that white picket fence.
JOEL ADLER: VIEWFINDER
Emerging Sydney designer Joel Adler wants you to look a little closer at the undercurrents and the impacts of constantly demanding more. From its spot on a cliff by Marks Park, Viewfinder reflects the whirling waves below using a toughened double-sided glass mirror, like a periscope. The weighted sculpture is made from weathered steel, creating a rather aesthetically pleasing contrast between the rust orange of the structure and the ocean blue beyond. The sculpture allows you to see parts of the waves below that you can't usually see from the path, which the artist hopes will make you consider the possibilities created by new perspectives and how we view our relationship with the land.
JIAO XINGTAO: YELLOW AND GREEN
Another installation that hits close to home is Jiao Xingtao's two-piece Yellow (2015) and Green (2012). While these sculptures are made from painted fibreglass, its easy to see why his work is known for being hyperrealistic — the tears, scrunches and ripples of discarded packaging are carefully replicated. Even for art novices, the screwed up packets of Wrigley's Doublemint and Juicy Fruit gum are a clear commentary on waste and consumerism.
If you want to check out more of his work, Xingtao is currently exhibiting as part of White Rabbit Gallery's tenth birthday retrospective Then — here are our picks for that one, too.
LUKÁŠ RITTSTEIN AND BARBORA SLAPETOVA: BIRD OF PARADISE
A large steel bird, bright and vibrant, emerges from a car in a symbol of purity and an optimistic outlook for the future, from Czech artists Lukáš Rittstein and Barbora Slapetova. A melding of the technological and the natural world, Bird of Paradise and its brights colours are meant to make you want to dance, love and search for something new.
This striking piece is part of a showcase of ten Czech and Slovak artists exhibiting at this year's event, in honour of the 30 years that have passed since the Velvet Revolution (known as the Gentle Revolution to the Slovaks), which saw the end of more than four decades of totalitarian communist oppression of Czechoslovakia.
MORGAN JONES: THE SUN ALSO RISES
New Zealand sculptor Morgan Jones is the recipient of the $70,000 Aqualand Sculpture Award for his piece The Sun Also Rises — so it's kind of a big deal. Made from weathering steel, the work is representative of the circular inevitability of our existence, designed to restate its rhythms. In that vein, Jones has referenced a quote from the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the books of the Old Testament, for the sculpture's title: "The sun also rises, and the sun goes down. And hastens to the place where it arose." It seems fitting to take it all in as the sun rises over the sea.
Top images: Trent van der Jagt.
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