Now in its 21st year, this iconic outdoor art exhibition will feature around 100 sculptures by Australian and international artists along the two-kilometre coastal trail. The popularity and prestige of the exhibition can not be underestimated with close to 500 submissions for this year's exhibition submitted by artists from 31 countries around the world. It is in fact, the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world.
The delightful Water Blocks by Tsukasa Nakahara in 2016
Who can argue with using such a spectacular coastal backdrop as a beautiful and unique canvas on which to showcase a diverse range of visual art? Every year, I find there is something new to discover with artworks that delight, challenge or inspire.
Sculptures to inspire - Fluid by Norton Flavel in 2016
Sculpture by the Sea 2017 will showcase 110 artists from 16 countries around the world. A list of the exhibiting artists can be found here. So what can you expect when you visit Sculpture by the Sea this year?
The trail begins at the southern end of Bondi Beach, just past Bondi Icebergs, below the end of Notts Ave. The sculptures inhabit both the eroded rock faces beside the path and the rock ledges adjacent to the ocean. Each work is numbered and labelled, however, I find it helps to have a copy of the program and map so that you don't miss anything.
The path winds its way along the coast to the headland where there are stairs up to Mark's Park. Here you will find the majority of the installations as well as a café and toilets. Inside the marquee, at Mark's Park, you will find the Sculpture Inside exhibition, featuring small contemporary sculptures. It is open from 10am - 6pm on weekdays and from 9am - 7pm on weekends.
Infrastructure5 by Oliver Stretton-Pow in Mark's Park 2016
At Tamarama Beach, you can usually find some large scale, interactive installations on the beach itself as well as in the park behind the beach. Here you will also find the Tamarama Beach Café and some public toilets.
Explore large scale installations at Tamarama Beach
Last year's exhibition attracted crowds of over half a million visitors throughout the 18 day period, so it's a good idea to be prepared and plan ahead before your visit.
Here's what you need to know:
Weekends are usually very busy and crowded, so if at all possible, I would consider visiting on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Street parking is not easy to find and you may have to park a good distance away from the exhibits. There are also a lot of road closures in the area. Public transport is the best option. Click here for more information
Even though the exhibition is spread over two kilometres, you could choose just one location to visit, such as Tamarama Beach or Mark's Park, and still see plenty of great art.
The coastal walk does get very crowded and includes a lot of stairs which can be a problem for strollers, kids on scooters and the elderly. However there is an Easy Walking Route designed for those who do not want to walk long distances or who are not comfortable with stairs.
There is little shade along the route, so definitely BYO hats, sunscreen and drinks. Free water stations are also provided along the route to refill your water bottles.
Toilets can be found at Marks Park and at Tamarama Beach.
Programs can be purchased at either end of the sculpture trail and at Mark's Park. I would definitely recommend buying a program as it includes a map and detailed information about each sculpture such as artist name, nationality, name of the work, materials used, price and artists statement.
If you are interested in meeting the artists and hearing their stories, you can check out the Aqualand Artist Talks . They will take place each weekend of the exhibition.
Tactile Tours are designed to introduce visitors with a disability to new ways of experiencing and enjoying contemporary sculpture through informed discussion and touch. Verbal descriptions of the sculpture visited during the tours are offered to participants who are blind or vision-impaired. For more information about Tactile Tours please click here. Sculpture by the Sea is a free exhibition proudly sponsored by Aqualand and the NSW Government. It is a great way for everyone to take a journey of discovery and engage with art and nature.