Let’s get it over and done with quickly. The background reality of the world wasn’t quite what I was expecting to find on the headland looking across the water to Mother Gulaga, snuggled and invisible under her capacious possum-skin cloak. But there he was, fingers poised over the red button. A reminder that the world isn’t only a matter of beauty.
Now we can settle down to the non-fake pleasures of the world of sculpture, and ramble amongst the other 2018 offerings of Sculpture Bermagui as I try to decide on my top ten.
I’m a fan of both corrugated iron and the word: John Blay’s Les St Hill and the tin canoe offers both. Words emerge from the boat: tales of the sea and of life around Bermagui before World War 1.
I was amused by Jenni Yamuna Bruce’s copper tube and barbed wire portrayal of Bad hair day …
… and by Jesse Graham’s Flower power
Jen Mallinson’s Influence, shaped from hand cut and rolled stainless, corten and mild steel and automatic engine paint, expresses the sculptor’s view of “our exquisite coastal environment through light and shade, strength and lightness”.
The sky makes a wonderful background for these three: David Doyle’s Bermagui: Canoe with a paddle … Under the Southern Cross gives a sense of place (Bermagui means canoe with paddle); Tobias Bennett’s Ferrous lilies hints at the feral lilies blooming abundantly by the road right now; and a graceful piece in flight eludes attribution.
After all these metallics, Sally Simpson’s Ocean watchers offer the contrast of rope and driftwood …
… and Frederick McGrath Weber’s Jumbled finds a new use for chicken dust bowls to cast creatures out of plaster and provides them with legs of wood.
But the one that really caught my eye was Ulan Murray’s Umbra, a copper and corten steel tree, a bright light green against the landscape, and a devil to photograph. If I had a spare $25 000 I’d buy it.
These were my pick of the headland sculptures, although more will probably surface elsewhere because I hate waste. Smaller ones were in a room at the community centre.
From that lot I loved the exuberance of Amanda Harrison’s stainless steel To the stars and back (included despite substandard photography); Freedom Summers’ Twilight on the Barkly (detail) which she describes as “a sculptural haiku, twilight blue”; and Peter Storey’s Two sides of she, a female figure moving like a Thai dancer, crafted from Australian timbers.
Animals in many modes also featured: Jackie Gorring’s Wilcannia scoop featuring pelicans made of wool, wire, fabric, steel, found objects, plastic and paint: Tom Buckland’s Gutterbirds are made from cardboard collected from the streets; and Jordan Tarlinton’s Oliver the octopus is recycled steel and chain (Ollie refused to present his best side to the camera.)
The biggest surprise was Patricia Pilfrey’s Innovation, made of burnished woven copper wire. It looked ho-hum until I began photographing, and then it was transformed into something glowingly intricate and richly strange.