On Friday I visited this year’s Sculpture by the sea. See posts 2-Nov-2012 and 15-Nov-2011 for previous exhibitions.
Tunni (Antony) Kraus
From a distance this large work by Tunni Kraus was an amazing wreck with beautiful textures in the battered materials. I had to walk closer to understand what was inside.
Bunches of flowers, like those you see left outside gates or on roadsides where there’s been a fatality. “Asylum seekers” or “people smugglers and their customers” depending on your politics. Look past the rhetoric and mourn those lost.
nomadic city: lest we forget
This is just part of an installation of small greenhouses on bamboo rafts. The artist’s statement: “A commemorative work to all nomadic communities displaced from their homelands as a result of catastrophic events, social or religious conflict, or economic environments”. For me there was such hope, such positive energy acknowledging loss but looking forward to a fruitful future. How can we help people who have lost everything to begin building new lives? Perhaps make a start with lots
of small, simple steps.
saved (rusty pipe)
Rox De Luca
A strong sub-theme through the exhibition was around excess, waste and recycling. Some got a bit preachy, but others managed to get beyond their message to something interesting or beautiful. I love the texture and variety of this work by De Luca, which at the detail level reveals itself to be plastic rubbish from the beach wired together and wrapped around a rusty pipe.
Let your palm do the walking
Keeping with the general shape of a column of texture, this “palm tree” by Tom Blake was made up of many, many telephone directories. Lovely texture and a nice witty title, but I thought it was let down by the green “fronds” that were plonked on top. The transition was awkward.
The materials in Alison McDonald’s work are described as “upcycled plastic lids, cable ties”. It looked like a huge crocheted blanket draped down the cliff, following contours and in some sections with brave little flowers showing through. It reminded me of El Anatsui’s Anonymous Creature
which I saw at the MCA during Biennale last year (see 27-Aug-2012
). In that case the bottle tops were aluminium, but it produced that same interesting contrast of draping in a hard material.
the great bondi sharehouse
I’m always looking for textile connections in artworks, and there is more in Margarita Sampson’s work. Not the best photo (click on it for larger. My closer ones were worse), but it does have the extra advantage of showing some of the crowd enjoying the day. I love the little creatures finding a home together in that rocky block (of flats?). Bondi is (or used to be) known for shared households of students, backpackers and others with limited budgets – in fact when I first met my husband he was sharing a duplex just 100 metres away. Sampson’s work is an amusing reminder of the mix of people and oddments of collected and found furniture.
In fact I’m pretty sure that in a similar spirit Sampson has reused parts of her work the yearning
from 2011, which was displayed in the same area (see post 15-Nov-2011
east of the mulberry tree – the legend of the ten red crows
The most overtly textile-related piece was this by Mikaela Castledine, in which she used crocheted polypropylene and a steel frame. Her artist statement: “The legend of the ten red crows describes birds as bringers of enlightenment to a world not ready or able to accept it”.
This takes me back to the recent question of mythological themes in art (see post 2-Nov-2013). I wasn’t familiar with the myth referenced by Castledine, and based on her brief statement looked at the work thinking of people refusing to listen. At home a quick search led to http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2012/07/ten_red_crows.html and a longer version of the story which suggests the danger – the heat of the crows was destroying the land. The blackened tree in the sculpture depicts this, but I didn’t understand at the time. I see the image rather differently now and I’m glad I put the effort into learning and thinking a bit more. It’s a legend worth reading and retelling.
In such an amazing place it’s very satisfying to see works that respond to the site. The artist’s materials here were masking tape and time. I think this is beautiful. It transforms a place by looking at it very, very closely and carefully. In one way it’s all about the idea – so clever, so unexpected – but the physical result for me works really well because of the combination of intricate detail and large scale.
Every bump in the land is catered for, every rock and each weed and tussock. It reminded me of stained glass, say by Leonard French (see the amazing ceiling at NGV http://news.domain.com.au/domain/a-diamondcut-masterwork-of-coloured-light-20100618-ymg2.html), but in a way celebrating the earth and the place instead of light.
a shared weight
These crouching figures supporting the cliff face were fun and beautiful. Instead of the heroic, solitary Atlas of myth (!), here two human-sized figures heave up the rock, sharing their burden. Maybe in a few moments they’ll gain their feet and the whole continent of Australia will tip over.
look at me
Isn’t the pattern of shadows here wonderful? The aluminium “fronds” of this work were moving slightly in the breeze and combined with the uneven surface of the sand created constant change in a pattern that was so nearly but never quite regular. Mesmerising!
This bubble of water (well, acrylic sphere of water) was perched high on a corner of the cliff and from the beach below looked like some sort of earth-moon rising.
Tamarama beach, forty years ago, a summer morning
It was rather a nice coincidence the next day at the NSW Art Gallery to notice the same cliff, this time looking towards the beach, with another moon rising. I was there looking at some of the “Australian Impressionist” paintings – more in another post soon! Details on this work can be found at www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/6535/
Returning to the present day, it was fun to stand up on the cliff, watching the waves below and the image reversed in Humphrey’s work.
Just like the water, the wind was constantly changing, particularly on the highest point of the cliff. I took a series of photos of this work by Phil Price and in each one the shapes made against the sky were different. It was noiseless and seemed effortless, although I’m sure it took all sorts of cleverness and precision to achieve.
Looking back at the last three works, they are a nice combination playing with the movement of light, water and air.
life reflection xx #1
The other constantly moving and irresistible force at the exhibition was the mass of people. Byung-Chul Ahn’s artist statement explains “the work depicts the transformation of life, from the simple form as a seed to the emergence of new life from within” but on that day at that place the life transforming and emerging was the crowd. The sun was shining, on this high point the wind was buffeting, that beautiful blue sea was surging below – all of that, and the crowd, captured and reflected in this streamlined shape, encapsulating the day.
a tale of romance
The final element – my mum, here mimicking a lyrebird. A wonderful woman, and I am very lucky to share such days with her.
All artist statements from: Sculpture by the Sea Incorporated (2013) sculpture by the sea: sixteenth annual exhibition Bondi 2013 Catalogue and site map. Sydney: Sculpture by the Sea Incorporated. http://www.sculpturebythesea.com