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I missed the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition this year, being rather busy finishing and then installing my window for the Bowral Presbyterian Church last Friday. I always enjoy the show: such beautiful location, always interesting and artistically stimulating and invigorating. And its wonderful that this exhibition is so well attended: many thousands of Sydneysiders make the walk from Bondi to Tamarama (or in reverse), not only to look at the view, but to look at Art!

However this is not the only sculpture show in town. Running more or less concurrently, in the beautiful old Waverley/Woollahra Town Hall on Old South Head Road, is the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. A strongly contested, selected exhibition, the Small Sculpture Prize is an intimate show, similar in many ways to the Ranamok Glass Prize. While the latter tended to favour plinth-based works, the former is exclusively such, with each work restricted to a maximum size of 80cm x 80cm x 80cm.

HO-ZUKI by Yasuke TakemuraHO-ZUKI by Yasuke Takemura

SERAPH by Peculiar AnnesSERAPH by Peculiar Annes

The diversity of ideas represented in this show always amazes me. What this means is, being such a small show with only 40x sculptures, it almost doesn't work as a cohesive exhibition. The observer bounces from one extreme example of creative thought to another. There are some links however, some threads to follow and works to compare. In this year's show there were quite a number of figurative pieces, each one of them very powerful and expressive. Henry, for instance, by Miraslav Kratky is almost talking to you. He stands there full of attitude and wisdom, espousing his particular philosophy on Life. Stephen Bird's Ancestral Figure, by contrast is almost impregnable, teasing you with so many unrelated symbols and references (like English Toby Jugs) that the artist seemingly defies you to make sense of the work, delighting in making something both arcane and beautiful.

Henry by Miraslav KratkyHenry by Miraslav Kratky

2014 Winner2014 Winner

Puppy by Natelie ThomasPuppy by Natelie Thomas

Triplex (detail)Triplex (detail)

Triplex by Morgan ShimeldTriplex by Morgan Shimeld

Ancestral Figure by Stephen BirdAncestral Figure by Stephen Bird

Several of the works are laden with humour, some of it quite wry. The winning sculpture for instance, Form for Modern Living #2 by Natalie Guy, is a suavely tongue-in-cheek dig at Interior Design, the mores of contemporary fashion, Modern Art and sophisticated consumerism. It somehow encapsulates all of this in a pithy statement of bronze Barbara Hepworth.

And with an hilarious take on Jeff Koons' giant Puppy, Natalie Thomas takes us back to those ultra-kitsch souvenir shops of the 1950's and 60's beachside holidays where you would find all manner of artefacts made of seashells.


by Freja Jobbinsby Freja Jobbins

CMS added image

A constructivist steel sculpture which caught my eye was Triplex by Morgan Shimeld. I know of Morgan as a stand-out graduate in glass studies from SCA, making really interesting work. Clearly he has pushed on to great heights and moved beyond glass.

But Freja Jobbins' Anthropomorphism #1 surely takes the prize for Absolutely Creepy. Is it just me? I find these conglomerations of baby doll parts very disturbing (while also, admittedly, decidedly funny). There are unexpected echoes here with both Bird's Ancestral Figure but moreso with Thomas' shell-encased Puppy. All three share a strong sense of the absurd.

My personal favourites were Yusuke Takemura's Ho-Zuki and Seraph by the Peculiar Annes. Totally unrelated and appealing to completely different aesthetics, yet both works share a highly developed sense of finesse in both craftsmanship and concept. Take's work celebrates the beauty of materiality and technical virtuosity while the Annes' magical figure possesses such power and spirit that it can transport the observer to another place entirely. And that surely is the achievement of Art.

I managed to catch the very last hour on the last day of the Small Sculpture Prize this year and I'm so glad that I did. It's always a fascinating show, with such diverse work from all round the country and this year I found it particularly inspiring.

Liz ShreeveLiz Shreeve

Titania HendersonTitania Henderson

Maria Fernando CordosaMaria Fernando Cordosa

Susana StratiSusana Strati

One is immediately struck on entering the exhibition with the textural variety, the tactile intensity of the works. I think there is a heightened awareness of form that comes about as a result of so many interesting sculptures on a small scale displayed so close together. It would be an etremely challenging task to 'hang' the show but the organisers did a splendid job. The result was stimulating and very satisfying.

Wona BaeWona Bae

Tavita HaveaTavita Havea

Kerrie CannonKerrie Cannon

There were three glass artists selected for this year's show: Tavita Havea, Kayo Yokoyama and Jessica Tse. Without a doubt Jessica's tiny glass tear was the smallest, simplest and yet most profound sculpture in the exhibition. I had been enjoying the poignant whimsy of Kerrie Cannon's old lady putting on make up in preparation for her departure from this world when I came upon Jessica's metaphor for Time, "based upon Kant's crystalisation theory: Time is the intent and the intent is crystalised in a tear. It is the symbol for love... the contemplation of someone, the waiting and beholding of .. romantic fantasies."

Aly AitkenAly Aitken

Ian MundayIan Munday

Jessica TseJessica Tse

Kayo YokoyamaKayo Yokoyama

Dominique Sutton: Sea of WordsDominique Sutton: Sea of Words

A good exhibition should leave the observer in some heightened state of awareness and this small sculpture exhibition did precisely that. I slowly wandered out into the sunshine and stood for quite some time watching the ocean, contemplating the pinecones on the large conifer silhouetted against a clear blue sky.... and spent the next hour or so lost in Christopher Tsolkas' "Dead Europe". Gold.


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