The stars don’t always align, but if you can schedule your visit to Sydney to coincide with the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition, then do it!
Held in October each year for around three weeks, Sculpture by the Sea stretching from the iconic Bondi Beach to secluded Tamarama Beach is an event not to be missed.
It was a sparkling Spring morning when The Brave Man and I joined the throng on the Bondi-Beach-bound bus. We had left it until the second last day, and a Saturday to boot, to visit the exhibition and that wasn’t a particularly smart thing to do. While the crowds added a nice buzzy vibe, it did make it a tad challenging at times to get a clear view or photo of the sculptures.
TIP: Visit mid-week if you can.
TIP: I also recommend that you visit early in the morning before it gets too hot, with pleasant walking temperatures and even less people. Plus the light would be magical dancing on the water and bouncing off the sandstone cliffs.
Sculpture by the Sea has been held annually for last 21 years. This year it featured 107 artworks spread over two kilometres of cliff paths and parkland from Bondi Beach to Tamarama Beach. This stretch is part of a stunning coastal walk and if you are feeling energetic, you can stroll all the way to Coogee Beach along the dramatic cliff edges. (I will write a post about this in a couple of weeks if you are keen to find out more).
The sculpture exhibition is also a competition and there is an acquisitive prize of $70 000 for the winning work. This year, ‘M-forty-six’ by Mark Parrett took out the money. All the winning sculptures are displayed at Mosman’s Headland Park and by the look of it, that place would be worth a separate visit on an equally glorious day.
All the other sculptures are for sale and no doubt the artists would welcome a sale as I understand they must pay for all installation and removal costs, and for the larger pieces, that could be substantial.
Stepping off the bus, it was easy to see where the sculpture display started and we joined a long stream of people heading south away from the white sands of Bondi Beach. There were families with young children, the elderly and every nationality of visitor – all making the most of the stunning day. The local joggers looked none too happy to have to share their space with the hoards, but that’s too bad.
TIP: while the path underfoot is solid and pretty smooth there are some steep sections and a number of steps and stairs that would be a bit challenging for prams or those with walkers etc.
The sculpture display commenced just past the Bondi Icebergs building and you have to be observant so spot some of the artworks that purposefully blend in with the sandstone cliffs and coastal shrubs. Catalogues are available for sale ($12) and they would be handy to understand more about each of the artworks. Or you can just stroll and enjoy the million dollar views and priceless sculptures, all for free.
There were the quirky and clever and downright kooky.
There were sculptures that amused, confused and made me say ‘ahhhh’.
As the temperature increased, so did the crowds. It was tempting to abandon the artworks and plunge into the crystal clear waters to join the swimmers and surfers splashing carefree.
The shapes and colours of the cliffs were almost sculptural themselves and the ever-changing blue-green ocean was a natural artwork.
Not all of the sculpture pieces were large. The smaller pieces were housed in a large marquee in Marks Park up on Mackenzie Point. Unfortunately when we tried to enter the tent, they closed the gates as it was temporarily at capacity.
The perfect excuse to return next year to see the latest crop of creative wizardry.
Is there a better spot in the world to see sculpture?
What: Sculpture by the Sea is the largest free sculpture exhibition in the world.
Where: A two kilometre path starting from the southern end of Bondi Beach (a popular suburb in eastern Sydney) southwards all the way to Tamarama Beach.
When: Visit in 2019 from 24 October until 10 November.
Why: To stretch the legs and dazzle the eye and mind.
How: Catch bus 333 from Circular Quay all the way to Bondi Beach. It takes about 40 minutes. Many buses are now pre-pay only and you need an Opal card to be allowed to board. Catch a bus from Tamarama to return to the city.
Who: The event is open to everyone, 24hours a day and it is free!
Related Posts: For more sculpture, but this time in a lush garden, have a look at my post about the Mudgee-based Sculptures in the Garden event.
Related Blogs: If you still haven’t seen enough weird and wonderful sculpture, check out this blog.
Read About It: For both pictures and words about outdoor sculpture, including garden pieces, check out the large range of coffee table and theory books available from Book Depository.
#sculpturebythesea, #sculpture, #bondibeach