Sculpture by the Sea combines two things that would appear to be an unlikely combination: Australia’s beach culture with art. Not only has the somewhat kitschy recipe worked for 25 years, it’s now easily one of Sydney’s most popular outdoor events. The world’s largest free outdoor sculpture exhibition is now back and currently underway with over 100 stellar artworks spread across the two-kilometre Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk. 2023 is also a milestone year for the event marking its big 25th anniversary so visitors are promised a memorable show. The exhibition marks the return of six OG artists whose works were first featured in 1997 at Sculpture by the Sea’s debut year. This includes Paul Bacon, Stephen King, Michael Le Grand, John Petrie, James Rogers and Margarita Sampson along with a slew of talented first-time and regular exhibitors.
The event is now on until November 6 and here are some unmissable artworks you should keep an eye out for while you discover the remarkable seaside exhibition.
1. 23.5° — John Petrie
John Petrie’s 23.5 degrees has been awarded the top prize at this year’s Sculpture by the Sea — the $100,000 Aqualand Sculpture Award so you know this is one to look out for. Petrie is one of the original six artists to be displaying his work this year making him part of the Decade Club. The 2.6-metre-high abstract stonework is made from basalt and inspired by the Earth’s axis and brings together the rugged boulder terrain of The Great Dividing Range and the refined aesthetic Petrie was exposed to when living in Japan.
2. Online Clothes Swap — Lucy Barker
Also part of the Decade Club, Sydney-based artist and designer Lucy Barker uses donated clothing in this lovely artwork where she sets out to determine whether art can bring about social change. She has previously exhibited 10 times at Sculpture by the Sea since 2009. Through her unique Online Clothes Swap exhibit, she invites visitors to visitors to “take something, or leave something.”
3. The Top of the Balance — Chen Wenling
Acclaimed contemporary sculptor Chen Wenling presents the “Little Red Man” with a mirrored steel ball on his head searching for the perfect balance. Wenling is known for his “Red Memory” series which sees sculptures presented in a bright monochrome red. His works have also been showcased at AGWA, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, the China Art Museum and the National Gallery of Korea. Read more about his works here.
4. No Colour in War — Emryn Ingram-Shute
Emryn Ingram-Shute seeks to connect with the tragedy of the Ukrainian invasion and shed light on the plight of Ukrainians through the deconstruction of the
anti-tank obstacles. The vibrant artwork can be seen along the sand on the beach and its surrounding areas. Read more about it here.
5. I Believe I Can Fly — Gleb Dusavitskiy
Two huge wire wing sculptures form a striking silhouette against the beach in this, dare we say, Instagrammable artwork by Danish artist Gleb Dusavitskiy. The interactive artwork represents dreams and the endless possibilities of dreams because dreams are free and limitless.
6. Hot With the Chance of a Late Storm — The Glue Society & James Dive
Further ahead, visitors will be met with a familiar sight — the Glue Society’s melting ice cream truck which regular exhibition attendees will remember from the 2006 edition. It has since become one of the exhibition’s most popular artworks inspiring both memes about the summer heat and conversation about climate change. The acclaimed art and directing collective hails from NSW and has presented their works around the world. Get more information about them here.
7. Chasing the Sun — Mond Qu
You’ll find Australian artist Mond Qu’s large-scale sculpture at Tamarama Beach. It’s hard to miss considering it features over a thousand shiny circular light reflectors in a geometric design that scatters sunlight in different directions to create a stunning display. This also marks the first-ever augmented reality at Sculpture by the Sea where users can unlock an augmented reality lens transforming this piece into an interactive artwork using Snapchat. This one needs to be high up on your list. Get more information about the innovative artwork and collaboration here.
There are 105 artworks to discover on the coastal walk from a stocky seated gorilla to shark dorsal fins, a colourful tribute to jellyfish and giant, crushed tin cans. Head to the Sculpture by the Sea website for more information.
Sculpture by the Sea 2023 highlights in pictures:
Giant in the Forest by Eiji Hayakawa
Dave by Coady
Cheryl’s Night Garden by David Horton
Monument 11 by Norton Flavel
Water Blocks by Tsukasa Nakahara
Yatra ‘Journey’ by India Collins
The Hermitage by Juan Pablo Pinto and Cristian Rojas
Learn more about Sculpture by the Sea here.