Sculpture by the Sea has to be one of the world's most spectacular outdoor exhibitions. The annual event heralds the beginning of the warmer months, with over 100 sculptures by artists from 17 different countries setting up along the beautiful cliff walk between Bondi and Tamarama beaches. 2013 marks the 17th anniversary of the exhibit which seems to grow in popularity every year.
Contemporary sculpture and a seriously gorgeous view? It's a pretty winning combo and Sculpture by the Sea certainly doesn't disappoint. Your Instagram account will most definitely benefit from a visit.
The most successful works are the ones that take advantage of the setting and actively interact with their surrounds. Matthew Harding's, The Cheshire's Grin, is a standout. The cheerful, slim metallic arc reflects the sky; the sly cat's face has become the ocean. Lucy Humphrey's Horizon has also proven to be a crowd favourite. The large glass orb inverts the sea, horizon and the sky in the most breathtakingly beautiful way. You could stand there and watch the waves roll in, upside-down, for hours. David McCracken's Diminish and Ascend is another must-see. The artist has built a stairway which seems to rise indefinitely into the heavens. It's absolutely spectacular.
Many artists have used the exhibition as an opportunity for social and environmental commentary. It's a location that lends itself well to this kind of exploration. One of the most interesting works in this vein is the sculpture by Marina DeBris, Aquarium of the Public Gyre. The large glass box houses a bunch of sassy sea-creatures made from trash.
Another benefit of outdoor exhibitions is that the works benefit from varying light and weather. Each of these sculptures is constantly shifting and changing. It's one of those shows you can keep returning to. Each visit will offer you up something new.
The downside? Sculpture by the Sea is popular. Really, really popular. The paths aren't overly wide and you're competing with a lot of visitors, tourists and school-groups to see the works. That particular stretch of land is also a very well-known jogging track and you will, most likely, have more than one encounter with a disgruntled runner. That said, this is one of those exhibitions you can't miss. Pack a picnic, a bottle of wine and your camera. Head east.
Image: Matthew Harding, The Cheshire's Grin. Photo by Gareth Carr