From the poignant to the political, many works in this year’s iteration of ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ are about more than its coastal setting, discovers Kim Kirkman.
- Reading time • 6 minutesVisual Art
More like this
- Strength and generosity of First Nations artists revealed
- Portraits of colour, confidence and comfort
- Printmaker spreads her wings on fantastic journey
‘Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2022’, various artists ·
Cottesloe Beach ·
Now in its 18th year, Western Australia’s “Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe” exhibition takes art out of galleries and places it amid the sand and surf of the popular beach.
While the “Sculpture by the Sea” concept originated in 1997 at NSW’s famed Bondi Beach, it’s a winning approach for our sun-drenched, coastal city; attracting around 200,000 bathers-clad visitors over 18 days, and constituting one of Perth’s largest free events. This year’s iteration exhibits the work of 70 artists from 13 countries, curated by a panel that includes Ron Bradfield Jnr, Dr Nien Schwarz, Professor Ted Snell and Ashley Yihsin Chang.
High profile artists in this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition include Perth collective Heavy Duty, known for recent arts activism installations including Shelter Seat for the city’s homeless; and Deforestation Detour, which cast a spotlight on land clearing in the South West. Now, Beach Goals partly submerges 7.5 metre-tall goal posts in the ocean, at first glance simply uniting two WA icons – footy and the beach. But as the tide rises, the installation reveals a stark prophecy for the future of our AFL-mad state in the face of the rising sea levels caused by climate change.
In other timely statements, Anthony Xerri’s (NSW) Following Orders stacks mean, glinting steel warheads atop one another in a “monument to our legacy of annihilating one another”; and Jimmy Rix’s (Vic) Lone Dingo “stands apart from its pack, waiting, mirroring our experiences of social distancing and lockdown” in pindan-red corten steel. Despite the artist hailing from Victoria; the work’s rusty cast conjures tones of the Pilbara, and Dampier’s Red Dog, furthering a sense of the artwork’s fit to site.
WA artist Sachio Ingrilli’s Perspective (pictured top) places a series of posts in the sand which, when viewed from a specific angle, combine to form the words “yes”, and from another “no”. The clever artwork, which evokes the style of Marco Cianfanelli’s iconic Nelson Mandela monument in South Africa, manifests concepts about the differing interpretations of art. Nearby, Figurative Abstraction, by WA artist Norton Flavel, plays with imprints and negative space in aluminium blocks from which human forms protrude and curve inward.
Other works pull at heartstrings. WA artist Mikaela Castledine’s delightful Woodland Numbats are created from found timber and jute, and somehow echo flawlessly, in their shape, the scamper and dart of our state animal emblem. Anywhere with You, by South Korea’s Sangsug Kim, tells a story that could be about displacement and starting again, in a bronze sculpture depicting twin shoots growing alongside one another from within an open suitcase.
Standout are works that celebrate their setting. Though the artist is from NSW, Christine Simpson’s peachy orange and lilac colour field feels like a nod to the shifting hues of a West Coast sunset. Startupup_educatedlife, by Milan Kuzica (Czech Republic/Slovakia), waves in the breeze like bright sea grass underwater. Closer to the surf, Singapore’s Chee Kiong Yeo and WA’s Hugh McLachlan both use polished stainless steel to craft forms which seem to freeze the flow of water, droplets splashing back, running down, reflecting light.
Richard Hammer’s (WA) Heap of Flowers is inspired by a group of everlastings. In the sea breeze, and against the crash of waves, however, the wind-driven kinetic work’s fluttering aluminium sheets evoke signal flags in a regatta, and the rattle of rigging associated with boats at harbour.
While there is a risk of thematic repetition in an annual exhibition that returns to the same site each year, these particular works demonstrate that innovation is still possible… even after 18 years.
Pictured top: Sachio Ingrilli’s Perspective. Photo: Martine Perret
Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.