Is there anything that does more to make you think Sydney’s a pretty damn good place than the annual Sculpture by the Sea event?
For those unfortunate few who may yet know nothing about it, it’s billed as the world’s biggest outdoor art event. Each November some hundred or so sculptures are arranged along the 1km long cliff walk from Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach to Tamarama.
The work is seriously good and entry is highly competitive, attracting some of Australia’s and the world’s great artists.
Sydneysiders turn out in their droves to see it, particularly at weekends, so we went this Friday morning, Day 2, as soon after sunrise as possible. Miraculously we found an unrestricted parking spot, then lugged the child’s stroller and (3 year old) grandson up and down the steps, dodging the joggers and the dog walkers.
The grandson found plenty to interest him – particularly the eyes staring from the cliff, the hands-on cubby house made of second-hand toys, and the Lost Boy on the beach.
Controversially, the creator of the hyper-realistic but oversized Lost Boy had been asked to give him a swimsuit to hide his modesty. A fascinated toddler, naked himself, lost his balance in the soft sand and clutched at the lost boy’s garment, nearly causing a major wardrobe malfunction. We all got a laugh out of that one.
I went to the Danish version of the event in the town of Aarhus this year. It was well done, and massively popular with locals and visitors. But the Danes just don’t have the spectacular cliff-top setting that Sydney can offer. Does anybody? Has there ever been any sculpture created in the history of the world that wouldn’t look better perched on a headland with the Pacific Ocean crashing on rocks behind it?
Sculpture by the Sea is a beautiful thing. If you live in Sydney, go and see it right now – it’s on till November 15th. If you don’t, plan to visit in November next year. If you’re too busy this year and next year, just hope that Sculpture by the Sea will be around for many Novembers to come.