Sculpture on the Edge 2015…

The Gang bestirred ourselves a couple of Tuesdays ago and headed to Bermagui for our annual kultural trifecta – sculpture, fish’n chips and gelati – aka Sculpture on the Edge. We’d managed to miss the skirmish of the opening, courtesy of a clashing commitment, and have to admit we weren’t overburdened by any regret to speak of (we’ve outgrown the pull of the brouhaha, thankfully.) And it’s nice to be able to contemplate the field without the constant interruptive chat.

We did, however, run into Jan Ireland (whose brainchild the event is) so all the requisite boxes were happily ticked. Jan does a fabulous job with SOTE against a torrid tide of village&valley agenda politics and it’s always a relief to see her survive yet another annual offensive. [Jan, we salute you. n(Ed)]

Anyways, the event itself (once up) is always worth the visit. It has everything; the good, the bad(-ish) and the (ever so slightly) ugly. More importantly, it’s also very entertaining.

We’re only going to drop in the works of note/our faves. This is not to be interpreted as any sort of judgement on the rest of the field – just that some artists present near identical work year after year after year after year and while it’s undoubtably good it just doesn’t float our boat anymore. So, we’ll start, it goes without saying, with the winner – Ross Cameron’s Tide Spiral

Ross Cameron

Congrats to Ross. Because, no matter what else, it’s an intelligently considered entry that successfully meets the client’s brief; the client being the Bega Valley Shire Council, the brief being a piece of public art to be acquired for the shire.

Now it’s a fairly common thing for artists, when entering competitions, to bone up on and make work that shoes into the predilections of whosoever happens to be the selected judge – and ordinarily this is a practice we don’t encourage/subscribe to. However in this particular instance it actually makes utter sense. Of the three peeps responsible for adjudicating the BVSC acquisitive prize, only one has professional arts credentials – so he, poor bugger, carried the handicap of two Council reps with scarce to none (…a bit akin to having Bronwyn Bishop and, say, Scott Morrison’s parliamentary secretary on the panel.) It’s hardly surprising that they’ve gone for something familiar and non-threatening. Comfortable, even. And we totally get the shell/ocean reference (looks like a warner) and reject entirely the sotto voce titterings about it resembling poo.

[And here at GCC we have no negative bias whatsoever when it comes to poo, as you are all aware.  Besides, we were far more taken by another descriptive tendered on the day – ‘looks like a fat hippy on a cupcake!’ n(Ed)]

So we reckon that Tide Spiral is a dead set perfect fit for the Valley. And should they decide to place it at the high end of Littleton Gardens it’ll make an incredibly apposite visual segue across from the new Council offices to Woolworths (stylised logo and all.) But it’ll also look appropriate just about anywhere in the shire, really. Totes respect to Ross, he’s clearly caught the essence of the place.

A work we did get a laugh out of was Tony Millard’s This is where we are heading

Tony Millard

This wouldn’t look out of place in Littleton Gardens either, but the Burghers of Bega are unlikely to appreciate its finer points (and no we’re not talking genitalia, which was sadly Ken doll.)

But we digress – we actually started out at the Small Sculpture Show…so, back to the hall…

We have to confess that we’re really not into metal abstract formalism – mon dieu, quel horreur, sacrilège, we hear you cry. Well, get over it. Doesn’t stop us from appreciating the concept, engineering and smith-manship, far from it, but it just rarely does it for us (personally.) It’s always too…overwrought or something, and hard to warm to (unless it’s a Matthew Harding!) But the one piece in SOTE 2015 that we did like was Jen Mallinson’s shift to the wall with Kyuku Landscape…which we somehow managed to miss photographing. Bummer dudes – you’ll just have to take our word for it; quietly arresting in its poetic simplicity. Noice.

At the other end of the range was John Gosch’s Phoenix; 670 recycled spark plugs rendered into a curiously elegant affair…

John Gosch

We don’t usually go for the recycled farmyard tool compilations, but the Phoenix pulled it off. The other works that caught and held our attention were: Stephen Harrison’s Hamlet and Horatio…

Stephen Harrison

…(having a good nag!)

Victoria Nelson’s Mother Earth…

Victoria Nelson

…(shades of Sky Whale?)

Tracey Sarsfield’s strung-out The Departed Horizon…

Tracey Sarsfield

…refreshingly contemporary.

Harrie Fasher’s Beauty (again, sorry, no image – we did take some but they didn’t do her piece justice)

And last but absolutely not least, Darren Mongta’s King Brown…

Darren Mongta

We love Darren’s work big time and, regardless of the judging outcomes on this particular occasion, we reckon it’d be extremely remiss of the BVSC if they didn’t purchase this work for the foyer of their new Civic Centre. At the very least it would signal a genuine interest and support of indigenous culture in our region. Just saying.

We broke for our trad Bermi lunch (with our dear friend Rosa)…

lunch chicks

…before heading up the hill to the main arena.

A persistant problem with SOTE over the years has been the matter of site specificity and scale – and this continues to be the case. So you get a lot of stuff that would look perfectly lovely in somebody’s garden but frankly fail to hold their own in open, naked space.

Anyways, on the upside, the stand-outs were: Suzie Bleach and Andy Townsend’s A Burden…

Suzie Bleach & Andy Townsend

…no surprises here, these guys are the antzpantz when it comes to nuanced articulation.

The Braidwood Central School Students’ The Birds…

Braidwood Central School

…(omigod, we wish we had someone like Suzie and Andy teaching us art when we were kids!!)

Jimmy Rix’s Shy…

Jimmy Rix
…check him out on Google (love his Roo Shooter series!)
Jesse Graham’s dragon duo, Penny Dragon and Vulcor…
Jesse Graham
…placement perfect (…we were waiting for Mother of Dragons to make an appearance.)
Thor Beowulf’s Survival Beacon
Thor Beowulf
…appealed on many levels.
But our best-in-show goes to John Ramsey’s Protest Pine…
 John Ramsey
…modest, understated (and another ‘placement perfect’ piece.)
Notwithstanding that this work was an on-message environmental piece – and ironically probably wouldn’t have the conservable longevity required for a public art work – we reckon that if the artist had jumped on the current gross-exploitation-of-Gallipoli bandwagon and named the piece Lone Pine, he’d have had the competition in the bag.
Again, just saying.
Anyhoo, plenty of goodies to make the trip worthwhile.
Have to say, though, we were rather less than charmed by Michael Purdy’s Ned
Michael Purdy
All giggling aside, you know how much we revere our Neddy. So seeing him reduced to some kind of organ grinder’s monkey left us…almost speechless. Shame job!!
We had to head straight home for a brandy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s