Sculpture by the Sea – Bondi Surry Hills, Australia

Established in 1997, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi is the world’s largest free to the public sculpture exhibition with over 100 sculptures by artists from across the world, transforming Sydney’s spectacular 2km Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk into a temporary sculpture park for all to enjoy from late October to mid November each year

The Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Sydney and Perth is Australia’s largest annual outdoor sculpture exhibition This exhibition was initiated in 1997, at Bondi Beach and it featured sculptures by both Australian and overseas artists In 2005, a companion event was established at Cottesloe Beach in Western Australia featuring over 70 artists In 2009 it was announced that Aarhus in Denmark would host the first Sculpture by the Sea exhibition outside of Australia

This exhibition is held annually during spring in Australia, from late October to early November for three weeks Over 100 local, interstate and international artists participate every year Sculpture by the Sea is incredibly popular and draws considerable crowds In 2014 Waverley Council estimated that between 450,000 to 500,000 people would visit the sculptures during their exhibition in Sydney

The Eastern Suburbs is the metropolitan area directly to the east and south-east of the Sydney central business district in Sydney, Australia This can include the suburbs within the local government areas of the Municipality of Woollahra, Waverley Council, City of Randwick, and parts of Bayside Council and the City of Sydney The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ “Eastern Suburbs Statistical Subdivision” includes only the Woollahra, Waverley and Randwick LGAs According to the 2011 Census, the region’s population was 249,546, up from 230,757 in 2006

The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney extends from the peninsula of South Head at Watsons Bay in the north to La Perouse in the South

In 1995, David Handley, founder of Sculpture by the Sea, was living in Prague He visited an outdoor sculpture park in Klatovy, Northern Bohemia He was inspired to do something similar in Australia On his return to Sydney in 1996, His friends suggested the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk as a suitable location At first, he planned on having paintings as well as sculptures, naming this exhibition “Art by the Sea” but dropped the idea as the weather can be unpredictable on the coast This is how Sculpture by the Sea came into being
The first exhibition was put together in a span of 10 weeks and on a shoestring budget It was held over one day at Bondi and garnered a lot of interest from the media and 20,000 spectators They received a total of 189 entries from 138 artists and featured 64 of them The judges included David Cook (Christie’s), John MacDonald (Sydney Morning Herald), Terence Measham (Powerhouse Museum), Dr Gene Sherman (Sherman Galleries) and Sculptor Ron Robertson-Swann

The exhibition has only suffered from the weather on the coast In 1998, rough conditions on the coastline, lead to six sculptures being damaged Ann Thompson’s sculpture worth 40,000$ was damaged due to huge waves In 1999, Duncan Stemler’s Give a little whistle was wrecked due to rough weather conditions The exhibition also suffered from some vandalism, Carol Murphy’s $2000 still life The Watcher was stolen only for one part of it to be returned in 1999, part of Tom Bass’s Gender Pieces was pushed into the sea by vandals

The works are spread right across the cliff from Bronte Beach to Bondi Beach via Tamarama Beach Every year the coastal walk is transformed into a seaside art gallery Over 100 sculptures are exhibited in the background of sea and the coastal landscape along the two kilometre coastal walk Sculpture by the Sea began in 1996 with an exhibition held over one day at Bondi and is now an annual event

For the first eight years, the main prize was provided by Sydney Water and most of the award winning works were gifted to Campbelltown Arts Centre In 2006 and 2007, NAB sponsored the main prize and the works made their way to Orange Regional Gallery From 2009 – 2012, the Balnaves Foundation sponsored the main prize to the winning sculptor in the exhibition, and the works gifted to the Royal Botanic Gardens From 2013 – 2015, it was Macquarie Group and the works gifted to Sydney Harbour Federation Trust for placement at George’s Heights There are many other scholarship and prizes that come out of this exhibition including the Helen Lempriere Scholarship, The Clitheroe Foundation Emerging Sculptor Mentorship Program and Allens People’s Choice Award There is also an encouragement award for younger artists

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