Sculpture by the Sea began as a one day exhibition in 1997 along the 2km Bondi coastal walk in Sydney run by a team of volunteers working from the Founding Director’s lounge room. Organised from scratch in 10 weeks, with no budget to speak of, the first exhibition was visited by 25,000 people. This led Andrea Stretton to commission Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at five locations around Australia for the 1998 Sydney Olympics Arts Festival ‘A Sea Change’ in Albany, Bondi, Darwin, Noosa and the Tasman Peninsula.
The impetus of the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival and the artistic networks built around Australia were instrumental in the development of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi as the largest and best attended annual sculpture exhibition in the world, and the creation of Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe in 2005. With sunrise in the east and sunset in the west, the Bondi and Cottesloe exhibitions are an annual trans-Australian series of exhibitions that attract artists from around the world and a combined 700,000 visitors each year.
In 2009 Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus was held in Denmark for the first time under the Patronage of TRH Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary. This wonderful exhibition was held every two years until 2015.
Together the 50 Australian and Danish exhibitions have featured 4,007 artworks by 1,558 artists from 75 countries around the world. Here are some of the artists reflections on the 50 exhibitions.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2018, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2015
Sculpture by the Sea has provided the rare opportunity to create two major installations, one in Aarhus and one in Cottesloe in which the public, in incredibly large numbers, interact with the artwork set in nature.
After creating The Infinite Bridge for Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus in 2015, a circular bridge 60 metres in diameter positioned half on the beach and half in the sea, my attention turned to Australia. Once again I wanted to stage the horizon and give it a spatial quality.
In Aarhus The Infinite Bridge unfolded the panorama of the Aarhus Bay in a simple gesture, that created a space for both contemplation and human interaction. In Cottesloe the vast horizon of The Indian Ocean spans infinitely along the coastline, as an unreachable two-dimensional plane.
The idea behind The Desert Island was to add a spatial quality to the infinite horizon that stretches across the sea. By extending the horizon onto the beach I wanted to create a space that triggers the imagination and invites people to experience the simple beauty of the ever-changing scenery together. In this way The Desert Island explored both the nature of the site and the nature of those visiting the site. The scenery defined the installation and the people who enter onto The Desert Island become part of the installation interacting with each other in a space that allows for each one to have their own unique experience.
By creating an illusion of a desert island, the installation puts people in a state of solitude. But at the same time, it also creates a strong sense of togetherness as it makes all who enter onto The Desert Island part of the reflection of the scenic surroundings and thereby the installation itself. To everyone who entered The Desert Island, thank you.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2012, 2017, 2019, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2011, 2013
During the last 10 years we have been fortunate enough to exhibit multiple times at Sculpture by the Sea, both in Australia and in Denmark. These exhibitions have given us the opportunity to realise some of our most experimental and large-scale installations.
The fact that Sculpture by the Sea has world-wide recognition as a high-quality sculpture exhibition with large numbers of visitors every year has helped us to get funding both for artistic work and for production costs which is not guaranteed in this profession. The international exchange and experience along with the massive visibility that we have gained by participating in Sculpture by the Sea has no reference point in our careers to date.
As part of our artistic collaboration Elin&Keino we often address issues related to ecology using materials and techniques that are not always suited to sell. Despite this non-profitable fact, Sculpture by the Sea has open-mindedly welcomed our somewhat ephemeral, non-commercial artworks. This, in turn, has supported our artistic development and commitment to address issues we find important. It has provided us a freedom to choose the artistic approach that we find best suited for the concept of the work at hand.
We have always looked forward to working on site, not merely for the exciting and beautiful locations, but also because of the supportive community of artists and professional staff working as part of the event. Sculpture by the Sea has also recognised the accumulating value of bringing artists together in events surrounding the exhibition. This has provided fruitful conversations, artistic enlightenments and collaborations that still influence us ten years later.
We have made long-lasting friendships among both artists and staff and have founded international co-operations because of Sculpture by the Sea. Sometimes surprisingly, but always happily, we bump into the same people also in other exhibitions all over the world. In that sense the exhibition has given us an important network of peers and friends, which is so very valuable on many different levels.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 11 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2013, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 7 times and Sculpture by the Sea, Albany 1998
Congratulations to Sculpture by the Sea on 50 exhibitions! My time exhibiting in Sculpture by the Sea began in 1998 in Albany and over the last 24 years (shocking realisation) I have been fortunate to have been in many Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions including Cottesloe, Bondi and Aarhus. These exhibitions have given me unique experiences and opportunities to create sculptures and installations in amazing locations viewed by hundreds of thousands of people. Most recently I have had an artwork included in the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail – the next initiative of the team behind Sculpture by the Sea. This work was installed in Tumbarumba, NSW, thanks to funding from the Friendship Society of Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.
Through my involvement in Sculpture by the Sea I have seen a progression in my career from working part time to support my art to a full-time practicing artist. Along the way I have made lifelong friends and colleagues. I feel privileged to be a part of the Sculpture by the Sea family.
Congratulations and thank you for having me along for the ride!
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2017, 2022, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2015, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2009, 2013, 2019
Having visited Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi since the early years of the exhibition, becoming involved as a participating artist has been a life changing experience. I was drawn to visual arts and sculpture from an early age, with an interest in land art, site specific and ephemeral works.
My first encounters with this kind of sculpture were along the coastline of the Bondi to Bronte walk while I was still at school, where during Sculpture by the Sea, artworks sit carefully curated amongst incredible rock forms, dramatic ocean views and changing weather. Having proposed my first installation in front of Bondi Icebergs in 2009, I have had the opportunity to exhibit in Bondi, Cottesloe and Aarhus, with this exhibition defining my career as an emerging artist.
The exhibition gives local and international artists an incredible platform for bringing work to the public, and a rare opportunity to present work outdoors in extraordinary landscape settings. It gives important ongoing support to artists of such a diverse range of ideas and expression, facilitated by the generosity of the organisation, its volunteers, sponsors and donors, and patient work of the site crew.
Sculpture by the Sea has brought sculpture out of the gallery and made it more accessible for all, significantly raising the profile and appreciation of sculpture in Australia. It has undoubtedly been a catalyst for many other outdoor exhibitions and has contributed to our arts and culture in an enduring and significant way. The ever-growing popularity of Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi and Cottesloe is testament to its commitment and vision in supporting the arts, becoming in itself a cultural icon.
Art can offer us important perspectives, the chance for contemplation, provocation and beauty, and a sense of connection through shared experience. Art provides an antidote to the difficulties we face, and sculpture has powerful potential as it interacts physically with our bodies and minds. The exhibition fosters a sense of community, a connection with nature and the chance to experience art in a completely free environment. It also gives our children early and memorable experiences of sculpture, expanding their understanding of the world and giving them a chance for wonder and joy. These experiences will last a lifetime.
This is the result of incredible hard work by the participating artists, exhibition team, volunteers and crew, and the many individuals and organisations who offer support. This unique collective effort results in an event that has changed Perth, Sydney and Aarhus through art, and the vital experience it offers us.
Sculpture by the Sea has allowed me to connect with other artists and engage with their work and ideas, which is endlessly inspiring, and to become part of a community of creative thinkers and makers who are compelled to express ourselves through sculpture. It has been a privilege to be part of this community and I look forward to the next 50 exhibitions.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 9 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2009, 2011, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 12 times.
My first exhibition at Sculpture by the Sea was in 1999 at Bondi and my relations with Australia and Sculpture by the Sea still continue. It has been fantastic years with many exciting exhibitions at Cottesloe for the first time in 2006 and then when Sculpture by the Sea came to Aarhus in Denmark for four exhibitions from 2009. The Aarhus exhibition generated great interest from the Danish people. Many, many people want the exhibition to return to Denmark.
During these 23 years it has been an ongoing and exciting challenge of my artistic career to exhibit in Sculpture by the Sea in Australia. I made beautiful friendships with many artists from Australia and around the world. And warm friendships with many of the exhibition staff who always have been so helpful and dedicated. My experience is that Sculpture by the Sea is an increasingly important part of the international sculpture-scene.
It is an honour to be part of the next project of the Sculpture by the Sea organisation, the Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail, with a sculpture installed in Tumbarumba in southern NSW thanks to a gift in response to the Black Summer bush fires of 2019-20 from the Friendship Society of Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 14 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2009, 2011, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 19 times
Congratulations to Sculpture by the Sea on the celebration of the 50th Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. It has been an honour and privilege to have been associated with Sculpture by the Sea from its first exhibition in 1997 at Bondi through to Cottesloe and Aarhus, Denmark.
These exhibitions have provided the opportunity to develop and make sculpture of a larger scale which sits comfortably in and complements the nature of the different coastal environments in which Sculpture by the Sea is held.
All this in the company of National and International sculptors from all over the world. I have benefitted immensely from this association and have made many important professional contacts and solid friendships.
My established profile today, has in large part been through my participation in the Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions and a suite of satellite exhibitions developed by them over the last 24 years.
Sculpture by the Sea filled a void in Australian Sculpture in 1997 and has subsequently developed into a most significant sculpture event which is recognised as an important event on the national and international sculpture calendar.
The invisibility that Australian sculpture and sculptors endured for so long has largely dissipated and this is in large part due to Sculpture by the Sea’s vision and professionalism in presenting sculpture in a manner that now many attempt to emulate.
For this new respect and appreciation of sculpture we can thank Sculpture by the Sea for its endeavours. We are all beneficiaries of this wonderful event.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 4 times since 2011, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2011, 2013,
Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 4 times since 2011
I have been fortunate to participate in Sculpture by the Sea ten times in Australia and Denmark. On several occasions I had the opportunity to travel to Australia to attend the exhibition opening ceremonies. These visits gave me opportunity to experience the creativity and imagination of sculptors from Australia and other countries. I have learnt enormously from them.
In 2011 I received the EY People’s Choice Prize at Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe. It was first time a Chinese artist had received this award. The response of the public and collectors to my artworks in the exhibitions on both sides of Australia has given me enormous encouragement and confidence, making me more determined to explore the possibilities of sculpture. Late last year, with the support of Sculpture by the Sea, I had my first solo exhibition in Australia at Vermilion Art gallery in Sydney. It was welcomed by Australian art institutions and collectors.
I would like to use the opportunity to express my gratitude to the Sculpture by the Sea team for their excellent organisation and support. I would specially like to thank the late Anni Ma, who was the Chinese Curatorial Advisor to Sculpture by the Sea since 2004, for her great contribution to the Chinese artists’ presence at Sculpture by the Sea and to Australia and China cultural relations. Art can cross boundaries and ethnicity.
Congratulations to Sculpture by the Sea for the upcoming 50th exhibition. I believe there are a lot more to come. Its impact on art and beyond will last long into the future.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2011, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2012, 2019
Taking part in my first Sculpture by the Sea, in Aarhus (2011), was the unexpected prologue of a myriad of new connections and opening doors in and around the world of art.
After Aarhus I came to Bondi two times, and it’s impossible to choose my favourite, because the most important features and its success were repeated every time.
Setting up a site specific art piece within a week on a beach in crazy weather is pretty impressive by itself. But every time I also found myself in a dazzling bubble of dozens of artists and totally committed crew, focussing at the same time on their own work as well as being open to the others around. In intense short meetings I made friends with other artists, leading to other exhibitions and interesting collaborations. Like the Indian artist Subodh Kerkar, who later invited me to his newly opened museum of contemporary art in Goa. Or Australian site specific artists, with whom we started a long term close collaboration project. There are too many to mention, but the network that developed from exhibiting in Sculpture by the Sea really enables me to travel the international world of art.
The welcoming and supportive organisation of Sculpture by the Sea offered me every time a unique combination of an intense individual experience and a worldwide network for contemporary art. And judging the radiating faces of the overwhelming amount of visitors, they must feel the same!
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 6 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2009, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 4 times and Sculpture by the Sea, Albany 1998
Sculpture by the Sea is a unique experience. My first encounter was in 1998 when I was selected for the Sculpture by the Sea Albany exhibition. Early on install day, I drove my Hi Ace van laden with sculpture five hours down to Albany from Perth. I met Director David Handley at the predetermined location on a most beautiful walk looking out on to the stunning Frenchman Bay. As we were discussing the final location of the work, a whale breached, leaping high above the water surface. David and I stood mesmerised for the longest time as the whale made its way out to sea. It was the moment I knew this was great.
My experiences with Sculpture by the Sea has been full of these moments. Of observing great art coming to life in the landscape; discussing concepts, ideas and the weather, comparing war wounds of construction with my comrades. There’s the spark of recognition in many visitors when I mention a work I may have exhibited, the delight people take in art bringing everyone together on a dazzling blue Cottesloe day. There is the pleasant afternoon spent walking along the forested coastline with the young Crown Prince Couple when exhibiting in Aarhus in 2009, the friendships developed, the memories made. There is the first morning of the Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi in 1999 with storm waves breaking on the rocks creating a constant sea mist over my sculptures as they hunkered down looking almost like part of the landscape.
Sculpture by the Sea is not just about the art, it’s not just the landscape, it’s not just the people — it is moment to moment, it is the changing light, the passing of time from morning to evening. It makes us experience the art and the art becomes part of the experience. It is a wonderful time.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 5 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2015, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 4 times
Sculpture by the Sea has been very important in the development of my art career. As an artist based in Margaret River I have exhibited four times at both Cottesloe and Bondi since 2012 and once in Aarhus in 2015, allowing me to exhibit alongside loads of fantastic local, national and international artists. Through Sculpture by the Sea I was introduced to other Site Specific installation artists, some of whom have become great friends and we have travelled overseas to exhibit together.
It’s wonderful to install alongside these artists, the epic three to five day creation of the artworks onsite, prior to the openings, and to witness the awesome Sculpture by the Sea install crew, as they turn the beaches into Sculpture parks. An amazing feat to watch.
I have been fortunate to receive the WA Sculptors Scholarship and then a Helen Lempriere Scholarship from Sculpture by the Sea that have allowed me to travel and exhibit around the world, including to New Zealand to visit the incredible Gibb’s Farm Sculpture Park and to meet International Land Artist Chris Booth, whom I later worked with at The Farm in Margaret River. Another highlight was travelling to Europe in 2015 to exhibit in Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus, which included a month-long residency at the Godsbanen Arts Space in Aarhus, then to participate in Land Art Poland.
Sculpture by the Sea facilitated my develop-ment as a collaborative artist beginning in 2016 where I worked with Aboriginal Elder Noel Nannup for Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe and again in 2018 when I also collaborated with Wadjuk artist Sharyn Egan (whom I had met at Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2016). It’s these kinds of connections and friendships which make this large sculpture show such a gem for artists.
Congratulations and thanks to everyone at Sculpture by the Sea for all their incredible hard work over the years. Looking forward to the next 50 exhibitions.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2013, 2022, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2011, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2012
To exhibit in several Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions in Denmark and Australia since 2011 and again this year at Cottesloe has had a great impact on my way of working as a visual artist, while offering me the opportunity to exhibit to a larger and more broad audience locally in Scandinavia and internationally than would otherwise be possible. The exhibitions open the doors for the artists to an ever growing network of fellow visual artists around the globe, giving depth to our art and in many layers of cultural exchange.
The Sculpture by the Sea approach of exhibiting a wide variety of artworks on a trail beside the sea immediately resonated with my own way of expressing myself through art. I am born on islands in northern Norway and was familiar with Artscape Nordland in the wilds of Norway since I was an art student. As Sculpture by the Sea has an open calls for artist submissions, artists can stay true to our own art, and be exhibited side by side with up and coming as well as established artists. This provides each artist with a great opportunity to exchange and grow our knowledge of the Arts and life across borders.
One of the greatest benefits I have gained from Sculpture by the Sea is their way of working. They are willing to take the risk alongside the artist to let an idea grow from a sketch to the realised artwork. This is done by six months of communications by mail and phone (or more if postponed due to Covid like Bondi 2020-2021) to make co-producing a nurturing journey – with the artist always the creator of the artwork who makes the final decisions and the one responsible for securing the patchwork quilt of funding.
The School Program with information and art education provided to over 2,000 children and youngsters is fantastic. The artist talks and sculpture making workshops gives everyone a part in the joy of making and be creative.
It was important for me to start my cooperation with Sculpture by the Sea in Denmark and from there to grow and dare the long journey Down Under. This in turn has helped open doors for others exhibitions and commissions in Norway and abroad.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 6 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2009-2013, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 22 times
Sculpture by the Sea generates a multiplicity of benefits which include a number of views, debates and emotional responses.
For me, its most important quality is the way it presents sculpture in the most open way possible.
No ideological bias, no agenda other than presenting sculpture of all sorts to as many viewers as possible. The WAY people are invited to look as they wish or can. Not having lessons forced on them, not being steered to concerns outside of the area of art. Sculpture by the Sea leaves the viewer alone with the works to be dealt with by him or herself.
As an illustration of my point I’m going to recount an incident which struck me as a perfect example of the openness, the free reign of sensibilities, to which I’ve been referring.
Two very rough-looking gentlemen were standing in front of my work at ‘Sculpture Inside’.
My works in that show are not maquettes or small versions of my larger pieces outside. One turned to the other and said “This must be the wanker who won the main prize”. I was happy that they’d made the connection.
And that’s what I mean when I say that Sculpture by the Sea provides an opportunity to look, see and make judgments in a free ambience.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 18 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2009, 2011, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 21 times, Sculpture by the Sea, Tasman Peninsula 2001
Recollections from a quarter of a century.
When I stood at the Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi exhibition site for the first time in 1999, I did not understand the sculpture situation in Australia. Intuitively, I wanted to see the Sculpture by the Sea 10 years later. Looking back I recall the wonderful natural environment, the warm encounters with Australian people and the friendships made with talented sculptors from Australia and overseas.
Twenty-three years have passed since then.Sculpture by the Sea spread to Western Australia and Denmark and developed into one of the largest outdoor sculpture exhibitions in the world. This is my 42nd exhibition. During that time, I developed a sculpture with the theme of a ring. As a result, a wonderful circle of people has been woven around the world.
I would like to aim for my 50th Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2016, 2017, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2015, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi five times.
Although we have a much longer cultural tradition of art reception here in Europe, we look a little enviously at Australia. Sculpture by the Sea’s concept of presenting high-quality contemporary international sculpture freely accessible in the urban space of the metropolitan regions against the incomparably powerful backdrop of the Pacific and Indian Ocean beats any traditional museum presentation.
One can say that Sculpture by the Sea has significantly changed the reception of sculpture through its years of constant cultural work. Every year again, population groups that would never have found access to modern sculpture in traditional museums, are introduced here to the world of art with playful ease.
The same goes for business decision makers, Sculpture by the Sea has needed and still needs the support of the private economy due to a lack of government support. Over the years more and more business decision-makers opened their minds for the fantastic art events and found themselves in new positions as sponsors of these annual sculpture exhibitions, which in turn led to an ever more firmly anchorage of cultural self-responsibility in Australian economy and society.
A special value can be found in the importance of Sculpture by the Sea for international tourism. Each year thousands of tourists enthusiastically attend these major sculpture events, becoming ambassadors of Australia’s open-minded way of life in their home countries.
Sculpture by the Sea took me to Australia seven times and to Denmark one time in four years. I made many new friends, was repeatedly invited by artists and collectors and was able to immerse myself in the Australian understanding of culture.
I am wishing Sculpture by the Sea the energy, strength and financial support to be able to continue on its chosen path for the next decades!
Exhibited Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe four times, Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus 2009, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi six times, Sculpture by the Sea, Tasman Peninsula 2001
I first exhibited my work with Sculpture by the Sea in 1999 and many times since then. Through this first experience I came to realize the powerful potential and possibilities of temporary public sculpture. After that, showing in the public realm became a special interest of mine and I’ve had countless solo exhibitions in public spaces around the world from New York to Copenhagen and it all started with Sculpture by the Sea. Through Sculpture by the Sea I’ve met so many interesting people that come together in harmony and fun to celebrate sculpture.
Sculpture by the Sea continues to give and connect people, an important thing in today’s fast paced world. It has a very special place in the world of sculpture and is a unique experience, both to exhibit and visit.