A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Sculpture by the Sea, now in its 22nd year, is one exhibition that never fails to impress. With all types, forms and sizes of sculpture in all materials, eligible for entry, there is no limit other than imagination. Open to seniors as well as emerging artists, it makes for some very different styles and subjects.
One of many sculptures gracing the edge of Mark's Park in 2016
Each year there are hundreds of entries for this Bondi to Tamarama festival but only 100 sculptures are chosen by the curatorial panel. This large outdoor exhibit sees both Australian and International contenders vying for a place. Awards and prizes are a big drawcard for artists as well as the opportunity to have their sculpture seen and possibly turned into a permanent fixture in an art centre or garden around the country.
For the public, Sculpture by the Sea is not only the chance to see some interesting sculptures but to get out and enjoy the beaches, the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, the company of friends and the many eateries that abound.
You need to choose your day and time wisely though, to avoid maximum crowds. The weekends are always the busiest. The weekdays are better but you get a lot of school children visiting so it's best to go early or after 2-2.30pm. You might also not want to leave your visit until the last days. This free festival runs for three weeks and sometimes it is best to get in at the start before everyone realises it has begun again.
If you're elderly or not up for walking long distances, then you might want to concentrate your visit on Mark's Park rather than doing the 2km coastal walk dotted with sculptures. The park has quite a number of sculptures on the headland with fantastic ocean views, making for great photos. Alternatively, you can focus on the other side of Bondi and the park at Tamarama Beach which has many sculptures. There's also Tactile tours with experienced guides for those with disabilities.
Mark's Park - Frequent visitors may remember these from 2011 & 2013
Another way to enjoy this sculpture festival is by volunteering. I did so one year and found myself selling books, calendars and other merchandise in an information stall in Mark's Park. As there was always another volunteer with me, I was able to take a break during a quiet time and walk around photographing the sculptures. At one point, I also ended up behind a counter in the marquee where Sculpture Inside resides and was able to enjoy all the small sculptures on display. This space is a great destination for art collectors with the sculptures being available for purchase.
If you want to learn more about the exhibits, the Aqualand Artist Talk Series is an insightful way to do so with the artists themselves telling you their stories and perspectives on their works. You can enjoy these free drop-in talks on a Saturday or Sunday from the comfort of an Aqualand bean bag.
A range of workshops, education programs and resources are also available at selected times and days, whilst a Sculpture Conference will take place offsite at the Sydney Opera House. The latter features a cultural exchange of the latest ideas and thinking in sculpture with speakers from various countries. It's also a networking event for artists, teachers and students. Tickets can be booked here.
Below is a map from Bondi to Tamarama showing easy and moderate walks as well as available facilities. Many of the streets are blocked off, more so now than when I first started going to this festival, leaving less car parking spots. It is best to take public transport where possible to avoid disappointment.