By Claire Ottaviano
AS this year’s Sculpture by the Sea closed its metaphorical doors, local artists reflected on the impact the annual exhibition had on visitors during its time this year.
On March 19 staff and volunteers stopped all interaction with visitors and school programs and ceased artist-led sculpture making workshops, four days before the exhibitions end date.
“Given the news late this afternoon that community transmission of COVID-19 had begun in Perth we have decided to close this year’s Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe,” the exhibition announced on its website.
“We would like to thank the artists, visitors, volunteers, sponsors, donors and the Town of Cottesloe for how they enthusiastically embraced this year’s exhibition.”
Veteran Sculpture by the Sea exhibitioners Johannes Pennekoek, of Gooseberry Hill and Ron Gomboc, of Gomboc Gallery Middle Swan, returned again this year with their larger than life pieces.
Pennekoek said despite the early closure, a chance to share something beautiful was never a missed opportunity.
“When you invest so much cost and time out of your life to put a work on the beach and then for it to be cut short while knowing that so many missed out on viewing the event was a bit sad,” he said.
“However, the euphoria experienced when you see the reaction of the public not just about your own work but about the event itself it makes it all worth it.
“There were occasions, while I played the music that had inspired me during the design process, where people were emotionally moved, one to the extent of tears.
“It’s at that point you know you made something special.”
Gomboc, who is the only sculptor to exhibit every year of the event’s 16-year history, said he too was sad but agreed the public’s health came first.
“Most of the people who were looking forward to the exhibition and were interested would have seen the show during the first week or so, as it has for the past sixteen years been one of the major cultural events in Western Australia,” he said.
His weathering corten steel peice Embrace measured at 5.3m high.