Winning sculpture at Bermagui to be permanent

NOW that Bega Valley Shire Council has acquired the winning piece from the Sculpture on the Edge event, it is planning to place it permanently in the shire and hopefully on the Bermagui headland.

Speaking at the opening of Sculpture on the Edge at Bermagui recently, Bega Valley Shire Mayor Bill Taylor said art was something that bound communities together.

Announcing the decision to award the Bega Valley Shire Council inaugural acquisition prize of $10,000 to Alan Watt of Tanja, Clr Taylor said acquisition of public art and sculptures was something of a first for council.

“However, it is something we hope will not only help to grow important exhibitions such as Sculpture on the Edge and attract more artists to exhibit their works in our Shire” he said.

“More importantly, it will encourage our emerging artists to continue developing and exhibiting their work.

The Sculpture competition was judged by a panel of three - Wendy Teakel, head of sculpture at ANU, renowned architect Philip Cox and councillor Ann Mawhinney.

Mr Watt’s sculpture, “Southern Exuberance 2014”, is the first of three sculptures that Council has resolved to acquire through Sculpture on the Edge, as part of its public art program.

Wendy Teakel said it was a striking sculpture by a local sculptor.

“It ticks all the boxes for the major prize award at Sculpture on the Edge,” she said.

“Southern Exuberance will be an icon for all that can be dynamic and positive about coastal life and culture.”

Councillors will decide at a meeting in March where in the shire the sculpture would be located.

Council’s acting group manager community and relationships Simon Schweitzer said, “Alan Watt is an internationally renowned artist with a strong connection to the local area, and Southern Exuberance is an iconic sculpture that we hope will generate discussion, particularly about the importance and value of public art.”

While Ms Teakel went on to say: “The work is robust, although visually elegant, and viewed against a coastal sky its dynamic abstract form uplifts the spirit without being overly didactic.

“The metaphorical nature of the sculpture seems fitting for the first piece of public art to be collected by the Bega Valley Shire Council through the prize.

“Perhaps unknown to some in the Bega Valley Shire, Alan has an international reputation in the arts and this resolved and graceful piece attests to his professional mastery.

Mayor Taylor said what council was doing was not just about Bermagui – it is connected to our commitment to promoting art throughout the Shire and the south east region.

“Public art, whatever form it takes, contributes to a sense of pride and wellbeing in the community,” he said.

“It tells a continuing story of Bega Valley Shire’s diverse identity, heritage and culture,” he said.

“In public places and spaces it can create a significant point of difference for the people that live in and visit that community.”

The mayor said the acquisition was connected to the prestigious Shirley Hannan National Portraiture Prize that we host in the Bega Valley Regional Gallery, and to the biennial Four Winds Festival which attracts internationally-renowned artists to our part of the world.”

Meanwhile an unfortunate incident of vandalism at the Sculpture on the Edge resolved itself quite nicely.

David Keating's “Companion Seat”, a thoughtful piece at Sculpture on the Edge much loved by children and adults was sadly vandalised on Seaside Fair night.

David came down from Canberra on the last day of the event and repaired the wiring which had been ripped out, so that it could entertain everyobe for the rest of that day.

“It had a plaintive new message added to its repertoire about what had happened to it,” Ms Ireland said.

“A lovely piece by a generous-spirited sculptor!”

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