Sharyn Egan returns to Sculpture by the Sea

Posted: February 22, 2024 / News

Sharyn Egan, ‘Balga’, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2023. Photo Michael Goh


To celebrate the 20th Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, the WA Government through Tourism WA and Sculpture by the Sea are thrilled to announce a new Aboriginal Artistic Program to bring the oldest living culture on earth together with the spectacular landscapes of one of Western Australia’s most popular beaches, offering a rich and unique cultural experience to the 250,000 local, interstate and international visitors to the exhibition.

Acclaimed Western Australian artist, Nyoongar woman Sharyn Egan has been named as the 2024 Tourism WA Invited Aboriginal Artist, returning to Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe for the 6th time with a major piece of public engaging participatory art, ‘Balga Boola – Bigsmob Balga’.

During the exhibition, Sharyn will lead a series of workshops for the visiting public and school groups, who will work alongside Sharyn learning traditional weaving techniques to create the sprouting woven fronds of the Balga trees.

The work is progressive and ‘Balga Boola – Bigsmob Balga’ will grow throughout the duration of the exhibition into a visually-spectacular field of Balga trees sprouting the traditional woven fronds. The interactive program will teach and celebrate traditional weaving techniques through Aboriginal storytelling and art.

Sharyn will work with students from Guilford Grammar in the lead up to the exhibition to create the initial Balga trees. Once the exhibition begins on 1 March the visiting public are invited to join Sharyn to continue to weave the fronds on the Balga trees.

Sharyn Egan is a Nyoongar woman whose art practice began at the age of 37, with the themes of her work informed by the experiences of her life as a Nyoongar woman.

Sharyn works in a variety of mediums including painting, sculptural and woven forms, using traditional and contemporary fibres. Her woven works include traditionally-styled contemporary forms and baskets, as well as sculptural forms, often based on flora and fauna, that has totemic significance for the Nyoongar people.

Using oils, ochres, resins, and natural fibres, Sharyn’s paintings explore her experience growing up in New Norcia and commenting upon the associated trauma, emotions and a deep sense of loss and displacement experienced by Aboriginal people.

Egan said, “This is a really nice opportunity to work with young indigenous students and Nyoongar elders to create an artwork that welcomes members of the wider community to participate in the creation of the sculpture which will be enjoyed during the day and as the sun sets over Wadjemup (Rottnest Island).”

“The WA Government is committed to supporting Aboriginal communities and people engaged in tourism and the arts, and Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe gives visitors the opportunity to learn more about the world’s oldest living culture by engaging with the artists,” said WA Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, the Hon. Rita Saffioti MLA.

“We want Western Australia to be recognised as Australia’s premier Aboriginal tourism destination, and showcasing WA’s unique Aboriginal culture and art through events like Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe helps the tourism sector celebrate, engage and honour Aboriginal heritage”

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe will host two sunset Aboriginal dance performances during the 18-day exhibition as part of the Program.

Sculpture by the Sea Founding CEO & Artistic Director, David Handley, said: “It is wonderful to be working with Sharyn Egan to give visitors to our exhibition the opportunity to work together to make Sharyn’s sculpture for everyone to enjoy on Cottesloe Beach.

“This is a great new initiative of Tourism Western Australia and enables Sharyn to create a major work which will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors with images being shared all around the world.”

Members of the public can sign up to participate in hour-long, free workshops, held each day of the exhibition starting at 10.30am, 12pm and 1.30pm by emailing [email protected] or simply dropping by to see if there is a spare space under the pine trees south of the Indiana Tea House with everybody welcome.

To mark the milestone 20th anniversary exhibition, over 70 artists from 14 countries have been selected and invited to exhibit this year by Sculpture by the Sea’s National Artistic Advisory Committee.

Respected sculptors from across Australia will be joined by renowned international artists, with 13 Japanese artists set to exhibit alongside artists from England, New Zealand, USA and Iceland, presenting excellence in sculpture from around the globe.

Since the exhibition began in 2005 with 35 sculptures on the iconic white sands of Cottesloe Beach, 592 artists from 44 countries have exhibited 1,298 sculptures.






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