Imagine being confronted with 77 prime sculptural pieces and asked to pick a winner…
Not a job for this little bunny. Luckily the comments made by the Sculpture by the Sea winners suggest the judges can sleep soundly, knowing they won’t be waking up to a horse’s head at the end of their bed, although …
Prior to presenting the awards the Hon. John Day MLA, Minister for Planning, Culture and the Arts, opened the exhibition stressing the importance of the event to Western Australia. Minister Day heralded the event as an ‘important part of the WA landscape’ and one that ‘delights, inspires and excites people’.
The first award Minister Day presented was The Western Australian Sculptor Scholarship for $10,000 which aims to help an artist study, travel, and advance their career, as well as enabling them to exhibit at the Bondi exhibition in October. First awarded in 2013, this year it went to Olga Cironis for her sculpture Mountain of Words, which uses a wooden loom to weave human hair and woollen thread into a piece that will eventually be half a kilometre long. In an unusual twist the piece is actually a work in progress.
After the ceremony I watched Cironis ask passers-by for a snippet of hair, which she placed in an envelope to be weaved into the piece at a later date. Clearly the prize money will be put to good use as she spends the next twelve months travelling around Australia acquiring more random tendrils. When I asked why hair, Cironis explained about the ‘memories in your hair’.
On accepting the award Cironis declared ‘Bondi I’m coming,’ so the folliclely challenged have been warned … I predict an increase in hat sales.
Founding Director, David Handley said, ‘it’s wonderful to recognise Olga who has a wonderful history with Sculpture by the Sea and in the visual arts in WA.’
Next up the inaugural Rio Tinto Sculpture prize for $50,000 was awarded to Dale Miles from NSW for his sculpture Parallel Thinking Space. This piece asks viewers to contemplate life, something we at The Ponder Room have an inbuilt penchant for, so I was thrilled to hear that the piece will take up permanent residence in WA. Can’t wait to check it out in more detail.
Miles was overwhelmed with his win declaring that he was ‘dreaming right now’. When handed the heavy trophy he joked that since it was his second, it would be ‘good for the deltoids’.
On congratulating Miles, David Handley said ‘for Dale this represents a career enhancing opportunity for one of the leading artists in their 30’s in Australia.’
Rio Tinto chief executive Iron Ore, Australia, China and Korea, Andrew Harding congratulated Miles on his ‘thought provoking sculpture.’
One of the judges, Dr Michael Hill said ‘upon reflecting on our decision, we realised that Dale and Olga’s pieces are standout pieces in terms of fabrication and the intelligence of the ideas, and yet they are vastly different.’
It was also a delight to see the sheer joy and surprise on Ivan Black’s face when told his wind powered piece had been acquired by the Town of Cottesloe. Coming over from England he was intrigued to see the Fremantle Doctor having it’s way with his piece.
‘It had been under the workbench for a few years and I’d worked on it on and off. I baulked at getting it out but did for this show,’ explained Black.
As I ponder the winners I thought … maybe the judges were a tad worried about upsetting a women who collects hair …anyone else get visions of Cironis huddled over a black caldron, hair in hand, casting a spell if she didn’t win? Or Miles, deltoids a blazing, hurtling someone else’s trophy in the general direction of the judging panel … no, just me then. Perhaps I spent a little too long in the sun perusing the brilliant pieces.
But seriously huge congratulations to both Olga and Dale. Olga it was a pleasure to chat with you.
More photos of the winning pieces are on The Ponder Room
The exhibition is free and runs from 4 – 20 March 2016.
For more information go to Sculpture by the Sea