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As summer officially calls it a day, March will see Cottesloe Beach swarming with around 200,000 people checking out Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe. Make that 200,001 as I was part of the first-day crowd.

Sculptures by the Sea, Cottesloe has yet to disappoint me in all its 14 years. This year 77 artists from 18 countries have worked on 73 pieces. I’m always amazed by the fact that artists can diligently squirrel away on creations for months, not knowing how they’ll be received until they’re unveiled. How scary to put your inner most thoughts out into the world for comment, and to do so not knowing whether all that work will allow you to pay your bills, or just open another can of tuna. This year 28 WA artists, 15 interstate and 33 international artists took up the challenge.

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Amongst the works are pieces from leading international artists such as Israeli artist Zadok Ben-David, Chinese artist Zhan Wang, and Danish architect Johan Gjode. They will sit alongside works by some of WA’s leading sculptors.

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It’s hard to pick a favourite, some of my choices were:

  • The blown-up head of Damien Hirst Looking For Sharks by Danger Dave and Christian Rager is proving to be a front runner for People’s Choice;
  • Waiting In The Wings by Denise Pepper allows every little boy and girl to be an angle for a moment;
  • Sunny Moon by Zadok Ben-David is stunning at sunset;
  • In Rainbows by Duncan Stemler is reminiscent of a glam backyard Hills Hoist as it creates rainbows;
  • And then there’s Sly Village by Sherry Paddon, well who wouldn’t want a tent made out of teddy bears.
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Over the years the organisers have added additional elements to the exhibition such as the Artists Talks program and the Alcoa Schools Education Program, which was enjoyed by 2,400 primary and secondary school students last year. At the other end of the age spectrum Amana Living residents and clients get to witness the exhibition with DADAA led guided tours. For Visual Arts students there’s the ECU Hands-on learning initiative where they can gain practical experience. In addition, last year the Disadvantaged Communities Tour saw 119 people from diverse backgrounds.

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Another great initiative, Beach Access Days, has been made possible by a three year partnership with Lotterywest. On these days special matting allows people with limited mobility or using wheelchairs to get down to the sculptures on the sand. There’s also a free Tactile Tour with experienced guides; Auslan-interpreted Artist Talks and tours for seniors and visitor with dementia. The pieces included in the tour have been nominated by artists and organisers as being safe to touch and in accessible areas. Visitors can book a Tactile Tour or Auslan-interpreted Artist Talk online at www.sculpturebythesea.com. Beach Access Days run from 10am to 7 pm on March 14 and 15 this year.

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“Lotterywest is delighted that we’ve been able to play a part in ensuring all Western Australians – including seniors and those with disabilities – are able to access what has become a calendar highlight for the people of WA,” said Lotterywest CEO, Susan Hunt PSM.

The funding also allows the Access & Inclusion program to continue to provide a large print exhibition catalogue for visitors with low vision to borrow from the Exhibition Catalogue marquees, a temporary accessible toilet and a wide access ramp to Sculpture Inside, a free indoor exhibition of small sculpture.

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“We are greatly relieved to receive this funding from Lotterywest without which we could not have afforded to continue to offer these services to people with disability and their carers,” said David Handley AM, Founding Director of Sculpture by the Sea. “It is such a wonderful program and we would like to thank Lotterywest for its support. In particular I would like to thank everyone who encouraged us to create these programs and to invite people to register for a tour or to visit on the beach wheelchair access days.”

As you wonder around the exhibition it’s good to remember that the artists are responsible for transporting their pieces to the beach. Thankfully the Australian Council provides some funding for this, however they still need your help. This year the sculptures have travelled nearly 320,000 miles to get here and you can help through ‘Buy A Mile’ with a $1 donation that goes directly to help the artists.

As sometimes happens with art installations, one piece was a late show. I look forward to checking out ‘Floating Rock’, a two metre high by four metre wide stainless steel piece by acclaimed Chinese artist Zhan Wang. The piece will be floating in the water giving the iconic Cottesloe Beach pylon a run for its money.

Thanks to all the organisers, volunteers and donating organisations such as Alcoa, RioTinto, Crown Resorts, Packer Family Foundation, Australia Council for the Arts, the Town of Cottesloe and Government of WA for making sure this event continues every year.

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If you do make it down to the beach and enjoy this FREE exhibition please, please, please make sure you throw some money into one of the buckets or ‘Buy A Mile’ to help out the artists.

For full list of exhibiting artists, please visit: http://sculpturebythesea.com/cottesloe/exhibiting-artists/

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe runs from March 2-19

Glennys Marsdon
Most kids grow out of asking ‘but why’, Glennys didn’t. So she trained as a psychologist and established The Customers’ Voice, consumer psychology consultancy in 2000, where she researches why we do what we do. After losing her partner in 2005 she understood the importance of making the most out of life, and began The Ponder Room blog, to help people do just that. By ‘having a go’ she now has a monthly column in a magazine, three non-fiction books published, been nominated for a Telstra Business Women’s Award, and profiled by US internet guru Seth Godin in a worldwide competition about people making a difference. She firmly believes in living a positive life and following your passion.