Sculpture by the Sea cancels 2021 event, moves Sculpture Conference to Perth

Bondi’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition has been cancelled for the second year in a row due to the public health orders in place across Sydney.

The event was scheduled to kick off on 21 October; however, the organisers are yet to determine its 2022 date.

This week, Sculpture by the Sea was announced as one of the beneficiaries of the federal government’s $200 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. 

The not-for-profit organisation will receive $2 million over two years towards the Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at Bondi and Cottesloe Beach in Perth. 

This includes $500,000 to ensure all Australian artists in the Bondi and Cottesloe exhibitions over the next two years will each benefit from a safety net minimum amount of income of $4,500 each (an increase from the $3,000 for the Bondi exhibition provided by Create NSW and up from zero for the Cottesloe exhibition).

The RISE grant will cover the significant costs of implementing COVID-safe protocols, as well as contributing to the event’s production costs.

The grant also enables the exhibition’s annual Sculpture Conference to continue with a move from Sydney to Perth, and the delivery of an expanded regional and greater metropolitan Schools Outreach Program during the year that reaches from Greystanes to Wilcannia, Kalgoorlie and Batlow.

“This funding assists us in an environment when it is almost impossible to secure new corporate sponsors and when all of the revenue from last year’s Bondi exhibition was lost to the artists and our organisation,” said David Handley, founding and artistic director of Sculpture by the Sea.

“This funding removes much of the pressure that we cannot control – pressure that makes it almost impossible to do what we love for others to enjoy. Thank you, thank you to everyone who made the funding possible.”

Sculpture by the Sea will launch a new permanent sculpture trail in regional Australia early next year, and has recently launched an online Schools Program for Term 4, which provides accessible educational resources and artistic inspiration to the thousands of children that would normally visit the exhibition each year on school trips. 

The organisation has also named Marina DeBris as the recipient of this year’s $30,000 Helen Lempriere Scholarship and Naja Utzon Popov, the granddaughter of Jørn Utzon, as the inaugural recipient of a new award to support Danish artists thanks to a major gift from Denmark.

Following her critically-acclaimed and popular work Inconvenience Store in 2017, DeBris’ artwork, Just a Drop in the Ocean, will be created from objects washed up on Sydney beaches.

The work intends to raise awareness about marine pollution, to encourage viewers to take a closer look at things we usually ignore and to rethink our consumer habits.

In partnership with the Friendship Society of Denmark, Australia and New Zealand, Danish artist Naja Utzon Popov as the inaugural recipient of the new $15,000 Friendship Society Danish Artist Award.

Emerging artists Tom Buckland (ACT) and Capto Collective (NSW) were announced as the 2021 recipients of the Clitheroe Foundation Emerging Artist Mentor Program, alongside the yet-to-be-announced 2020 recipients Sian Watson (ACT) and Sivaan Walker (NSW). Each artist will receive $15,000 to create their sculptures and to undertake a 12-month mentorship with an established artist of their choice.

“We know the COVID lockdown is very difficult for many and had hoped to delay the exhibition for a month or so to give us every chance of going ahead this spring; however, events have overtaken us,” Handley said.

“There is something ironic in providing Marina DeBris with this well-deserved Helen Lempriere Scholarship, given her previous artwork at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi was titled Inconvenience Store. We hope the inconvenience and tragedy of COVID will soon be behind all of us, and look forward to presenting Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi in the future for everyone to enjoy.”