The cost reality of sculpture’s pleasure - Donna Marcus

Gina Fairley, ArtsHub, October 26, 2022
Launching this year’s edition of Sculpture by the Sea Bondi (SXS), Founding CEO and Artistic Director, David Handley said: ‘It’s great to be back!,’ adding, ‘to the 108 artists from 16 countries – thank you for your patience.’
 
He also admitted that ‘being back’ has only been possible through a mix of private, corporate and government support – but that this journey of support needs to continue. In a first, the internationally celebrated sculpture event will encourage visitors to offer a ‘voluntary contribution’ to view this year’s exhibition, which stretches along the coastline from Bondi to Tamarama, and draws on average 450,000 visitors each time it is staged.
 
‘A first for Sculpture by the Sea is that we are asking the public to contribute voluntarily on arrival, $5 for an individual and $10 for a family,’ said Handley.  ‘The first port of call for that money is to go to the artists to cover extra costs incurred installing their work, and then the money goes to put on the exhibition, and hopefully, if any is left over, it goes towards freight for artists who haven’t sold their sculptures.’
 
Handley emphasised that payment is not compulsory, stating that the exhibition remains free. ‘We are hearing that one in three people are already donating these voluntary contributions … if you can spend that money it is greatly welcomed.’ Sculpture events like SXS have become a growing addition to the annual festival calendar, staged in vineyards to rainforests, nestled in valleys and along coastal walks. They are largely great free entertainment. 
 
There are some exceptions, such as the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery ($6 admission fee) and Sculpture at Scenic World ($49.90 discovery pass) where payment is a norm and is attached to a general park entry fee. But for most like SXSSWELL Sculpture Festival (Queensland’s version of SXS, which has been running for 21 years on the Gold Coast), Sculpture in the Vineyards/Wollombi Valley Sculpture Festival (20th anniversary this year), and the newest – Le Petit Salon de Sculptures at Q Station, North Head Sydney and Snowy Valleys Sculpture Trail – it has been harder to apply an ‘entry fee’ given their scattering along a public thoroughfare. So the cost equation is a key point, especially given the broader public attendance at these events, usually strolling with latte in hand.
 
Highlights of this year’s event
It would be easy to claim Sculpture by the Sea as one of Australia’s most photographed arts events on social media. Everyone has a favourite sculpture – some play off humour, while others play off location.
 
Donna Marcus, ‘Pivot’, installation view, Sculpture by the Sea Bondi 2022. Photo: Charlotte Curd.
 
Donna Marcus – Pivot
Queensland artist Donna Marcus turns to a topic with which we all became intimate during the pandemic – home and baking. Here her cake tins rise and twist almost like a whirly wind – located on a rocky point where you can literally feel the elements whistle around you. While the form feels mechanical, the patina of age, the sentimentality of association and memory makes her sculpture a human expression.
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