Dynamics in Impermanence by Nicole Larkin, Sculpture by the Sea 2016, Bondi, New South Wales
World-class art meets a world-famous view on Sydney’s favourite coastal walk.
By Paul Chai
Published: 09 October, 2017
Sydney’s favourite coastal walk gets an artistic makeover during Bondi’s annual Sculpture by the Sea festival. Each year, more than 100 sculptures are installed along the clifftops and on the beaches of the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, attracting tourists, exercisers, art lovers, Instagrammers and locals in a spectacle that's as much as about people-watching as it is about public art. This is the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public sculpture exhibition and it features dozens of brilliant, whacky and playful works. Throw in a backdrop of several of Sydney’s best beaches and you’ve got yourself the ultimate day out.
WALK WITH HALF A MILLION ART LOVERS
Started in 1997, Sculpture by the Sea had one simple but ambitious aim: to foster an appreciation of sculpture as an art form. But Sydneysiders liked it for other reasons, too. Thanks to that jaw-dropping backdrop (the Bondi to Bronte is an immensely popular coastal walk), the event was quickly adopted as a social must-do. Now, more than half a million admirers wander this curvaceous section of coastline each year during the festival, admiring the ever-changing (and ever-growing) roster of artworks on display as well as the spectacular coastal scenery.
This year, Sculpture by the Sea is throwing itself a 21st birthday party. In addition to the walk itself, you’ll find Sculpture Inside, a smaller indoor exhibition, and Aqualand Artist Talks, where the sculptors discuss the ideas behind their works. After all, your 21st birthday is a milestone.
EXCITING NEW WORKS ON SHOW
Australian artist Elyssa Sykes-Smith has produced works for six Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions, but says that each new work is exciting. “What I think is amazing about the exhibition is the natural geography,” she says. “The coastal cliff faces and the rock formations along the walk are just extraordinary. Every year I have been able to find a location that is unique.” Sykes-Smith says many of the rock formations are like works of art themselves and she spends a lot of time exploring the coast before deciding on a new work.
INFLUX OF INTERNATIONAL TALENT
Sculpture by the Sea 2017 features artists from more than 16 countries, the biggest international component yet. “There are an increasing number of international artists, which is fantastic,” Sykes Smith says. “And not just in numbers, but the variety of countries represented. It is great from an artist's point of view because it allows me to interact with all these fabulous, high-profile artists from across the world in my local surroundings.” Countries represented include South Korea, China, India and Spain.
NEW WORK FROM A FAVOURITE SON
An exciting part of the 2017 exhibition is the return of renowned artist James Dive, who created one of the exhibition’s most memorable pieces in its 21-year history. In 2006, his “Hot with the Chance of a Late Storm” showed an ice-cream van melting on the sands of Bondi. It was a simple, whimsical piece that became one of the most-loved sculptures in the exhibition’s history. That’s not all you’ve got to look forward to. When the walk is over, grab a cocktail at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar, have one of the city’s best brunches at Bills Bondi (try the ricotta hotcakes) or sit metres from the sand with a pile of fresh prawns in beach-chic diner, Bucket List.
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