Christopher Allen casts his eye over this year’s Sculpture by the Sea


A friend with whom I visited the exhibition this year, musing on the success of Sculpture by the Sea’s formula, and its expansion into satellite exhibitions in Perth and even Denmark, wondered why not Melbourne as well. But then, looking at the extraordinary clifftop surroundings with the crashing waves below, the beautiful sunny afternoon, the jumble of artistic styles and the crowds of pretty eastern suburbs girls in tights having their ­pictures taken for Instagram and Facebook, he concluded that this was perhaps all too quintessentially Sydney and might not go down quite so well in the southern capital.

The selection of work is as ­always eclectic, reflecting the general uncertainty about the purpose and place of art in con­temporary society, which is of course always more acute in the case of sculpture, if only because it takes up more space and cannot usually be confined to a decorative place on the wall. If sculptures are not monuments or memorials, which is to say that they have no common or public place, what ­exactly are they for?

One answer is that they can be reduced to the scale of a kind of mini-monument in a corporate environment, sitting in front of an office block or in a foyer and suggesting the enterprise is somehow concerned with more than just making money. The winner this year, David Ball’s Orb, is this sort of thing: it is an oval ring made of steel sheeting welded into a hollow box-like form, interrupted at one point by a small sphere.

Rings and circles are cliches of corporate modernist sculpture, with their easy logo-like suggestion of infinity, cycles, the cosmos or whatever else you want to ­associate with them. Often they are made out of mechanically fabricated polished steel or granite; here the material is rusted steel, perhaps in an effort to look less shiny and facile, but the hollow box structure feels insubstantial and the welding of the sheets — especially the spacing of joints — lacks aesthetic sense or symmetry.

Much more interesting, even if ultimately limited in the scope of its method, is Peter Lundberg’s Walking Woman, a sculpture formed by digging a trench in the ground, filling it with concrete, and then extracting the resulting cast, combined with the red sandstone that has become attached to the concrete. Towering up above us in an irregular loop that retains the organic forms of the earth and rock in which it is cast, the work is both impressive in scale and ­material and yet paradoxically fragile.

Walking Woman  by US artist Peter Lundberg. Picture: AFP

Walking Woman by US artist Peter Lundberg. Picture: AFP

Among the more interesting works elsewhere is Harry Fasher’s group of ghostly horses, a memorial to the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba — Fasher is the recipient of a Helen Lempriere scholarship — and an intriguing ­anamorphic house, built of cedar but floating against the sky, by my friend and colleague Dale Miles, a Lempriere winner two years ago: an inviting and yet disturbing ­interior, with a single seat, seems to beckon us from a distance, but space disappears as we approach.

There is an elegant blue sculpture by Ron Robertson-Swann, also a Helen Lempriere scholar, another whimsical and poetic equine figure by Orest Keywan and a ring of steel blocks by Tetsuro Yamasaki that support each other horizontally in the way that an arch supports itself vertically.

Unfortunately there are a great many other pieces, from the kitsch and the quaint to banal formalism and vapid conceptualism, that leave one wondering why the artist made them at all. Art can be ambiguous and mysterious but it must impart a sense of conviction and necessity.

Review: Sculpture by the Sea 2017 works its familiar magic

by John McDonald

Sculpture by the Sea is 21 years old and everyone is invited to the party. From the moment the show opened last week the walk from Bondi to Tamarama was crowded with sightseers, school groups, and tourists speaking a confusion of languages worthy of the Tower of Babel. Cameras and mobile phones were clicking relentlessly. If it were possible to count the number of photos taken during the show's three-week season the total would be in the millions.

It's ironic that something as concrete as sculpture should find itself in a symbiotic relationship with the world of social media, but the selling point of this exhibition has always been its connection to the landscape. A sculpture that might look humdrum in a busy plaza takes on a dramatic new dimension when set against sea and sky.

Conversely such an environment poses a challenge for works that are too small or too timid. It's a problem Sculpture by the Sea (SXS) has never been able to outgrow because most artists simply do not have the means to create large-scale pieces. As a consequence the show is always filled out with sculptures that would be more at home in a corner of the lounge room rather than battling it out with the elements.

The other dichotomy is between works made by sculptors who believe that form is all-important, and by those who are satisfied with a visual gag. Every year there is much professional grumbling about these jokey works, but they are usually the most popular pieces. Some are genuinely witty, such as Jane Gillings' Are We There Yet? which looks certain to be a crowd-pleaser.

Running alongside the stone steps at the edge of Marks Park, Gillings has set a miniature road with dozens of toy vehicles and a row of humorous shop fronts (a store called "Betty's Machetes" sits next to "Clive's Knives" and so on). This will be a rocky road for the purists but it's attracting a lot of positive energy.

There were also mixed reactions when the Aqualand Sculpture Award of $60,000 went to David Ball from Mittagong, for a large steel loop called Orb. The title refers to a tiny metal ball which breaks the loop, and also acts as the artist's signature. It's an elegant piece but purely formal in its concerns.

The prize is a good break for Ball, a talented but largely unsung sculptor. However, this year's standout entry is so obvious the judges may have felt compelled to look elsewhere (it's a common syndrome with art prizes). In terms of scale, ambition and degree-of-difficulty, Harrie Fasher' The Last Charge is easily the most impressive work in the show. Placed on the ridge where Mark's Park faces the ocean, it features eight rusty steel horses made from shards and twisted rods. There's an incredible dynamism in this grouping, which honours the charge of the Light Horse at the Battle of Beersheb on October 31, 1917.

How many boxes does a girl have to tick? Not only does the show coincide with the centenary of a famous event, the sculpture connects with two sculptural traditions: the war memorial and the equestrian statue. It's not a stately bronze effigy of a noble rider but a complex, semi-abstract ensemble of horses in motion that makes most of the other sculptures in the show look dull and conservative.

Fasher had one of the best entries last year, but this time she's made a superhuman effort. The Australian War Memorial should take a hard look at this piece.

The other sculptor who has given it everything is Peter Lundber from the United States, who was a prize winner in 2012 and 2014. Lundberg's Walking Woman is arguably his best entry but his previous successes may have counted against him. An oblique homage to Rodin's Walking man (c.1877) in cast concrete, Lundberg's work also has a sense of history, as this is the 100th anniversary of the great sculptor's death.

Concrete can be a lifeless medium but Lundberg manages to make it seem as tactile as clay. The work almost swaggers on its two giant legs.

Chinese artists feature at both ends of this year's show. At the beginning of the Bondi walk there's an eye-catching piece by Xia Hang called Rangere – a massive, shiny, stainless steel, robotic dragon fly, bristling with weapons. This piece of apocalyptic science fiction is matched by a vision of perfect harmony at the Tamarama end, in Chen Wenling' Autumn Moon in the Sky. The work features one of Chen's signature red boys reclining on a stainless steel cloud, under a crescent moon.

This harmonious scenario is somewhat overshadowed by the looming bulk of Jorge Plickat' Existence (Just a Loop in Time), the other standout piece at Tamarama.

After 21 years, SXS has become a Sydney institution. Founding director David Handley is quick to point out that some of this year's younger participants have grown up with the show and been inspired by it.

I wish this meant 2017 was notable for brilliant young discoveries, but the most prominent entries belong to the old stagers. Chief among them must be Orest Keywa, who is celebrating his 20th SXS appearance, with a spacious, allusive work called Bronze Age. Paul Selwood's Phyli is an ingenious piece of steel origami, made with no more than a few strategic cuts and folds. Ron Robertson-Swann's Delphi is a stylised altar.

With 104 works on display it's impossible to go into too much detail, but as is often the case, the strongest pieces are clustered in Marks Park, while the weakest are scattered along the pathways. There are exceptions to this generalisation but every viewer will see it a bit differently, which is the best aspect of this broadly democratic event.

SXS has become part of the fabric of life in Sydney and once again it has worked its familiar magic. For months the city has been praying out for rain but the gods wouldn't budge until the day those sculptures were in place. Listening to the downpour on my rooftop I'm wondering how many thousands of people are soaking it up somewhere between Bondi and Tamarama.

Sculpture by the Sea 2017 runs from Bondi to Tamarama until November 5.

Sculpture by the Sea: The review is in

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney

Closes November 5, 2017, around the clock access

It is difficult to believe that this is the 21st Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi.

21 years ago, there was a hastily arranged exhibition on the scenic walk from Bondi to Tamarama Beach – literally a one-night stand – that drew a sizeable crowd and was deemed a success. It is no exaggeration to say that Sculpture by the Sea has had a fundamental impact on sculpture in Australia, having attracted, over the years, some 1272 sculptors. Today, it is the most popular sculpture event in the world and, in its 18-day duration, attracts more than half a million visitors. It remains free, democratic and secular with a huge diversity of styles, philosophies of sculpture and mediums – from relatively ephemeral sticks and threads that flutter in the wind, to huge stone arches, expansive steel constructions and monumental bronzes. Curatorially, this is a very broad-church approach to the art of sculpture.

This year there are more than 100 sculptors from 15 countries, selected from a huge field of applicants, arranged along the two-kilometre coastal walk and visually competing with dolphins and ancient Aboriginal rock carvings. It is one of the most spectacular "gallery settings" in the world and this undoubtedly adds to the viewing experience. Some of this year's exhibitors, Tango Conway & Amelia Skelton and Isobel Lord & Sophie Lanigan, came to sculpture through the experience of Sculpture by the Sea as children and have now made it their vocation.

The 21st anniversary show is crowded with some very strong pieces, including those by Japanese sculptors, Akiho Tata with Fantasia, where glowing acrylic solar sea shapes cling to the rocks, and Toshio Iezumi with M,171001, where an over-life size glass-and-steel totem glows, absorbing and reflecting light.

Steel is the material of choice for many of the exhibiting sculptors, including the impressive corten steel structure of the Western Australian sculptor Johannes Pannekoek, Mittagong sculptor David Ball, New Zealander Marcus Tatton and the German artist Jörg Plickat. Apart from its strength, corten steel glows with a rusty warmth, and has a tactile surface that draws people into the work.

Mild steel and painted steel, which frequently lend themselves to geometric, architectonic constructions and crisp edges, are represented by some brilliant pieces by the Canberra sculptor Michael Le Grand and NSW sculptors Paul Selwood and Ron Robertson-Swann. Some of the most impressive stainless-steel works include those by the South Australian sculptor Karl Meyer, the Tasmanian Hugh McLachlan, the Victorian artist Matthew Harding, the American Albert Paley and the Japanese artist Mitsuo Takeuchi.

The most impressive, at least in terms of scale, is the gigantic arch titled Walking woman by the American artist Peter Lundberg, while amongst the quirkiest pieces are a copper, fibreglass and wooden boat by the Perth artist Denise Pepper, the South Korean artist Kyung Jin Cha's copper suit, the Slovak artist Milan Kuzica's ten-metre-high green shoot, a bronze fish cycle by the Greek artist Evi Savvaidi and NSW artist Harrie Fasher's full-size steel skeletal Charge of the Light Brigade, complete with tumbling steel horses.

There is an exceptional piece in bronze, brass and steel by the Victorian artist Jock Clutterbuck, a memorable and slightly melancholy sculpture by the very well-known Chinese sculptor Chen Wenling and a lovely protective form in aluminium by the West Australian sculptor Ron Gomboc, who is exhibiting in his 18th Sculpture by the Sea at Bondi.

Like in any huge mixed show with more than a hundred pieces of sculpture, it is difficult if not impossible to present a coherent overview. This is one of the strengths of Sculpture by the Sea – it adheres to no orthodoxy, it has an inclusive aesthetic, where the serious and frivolous are permitted to share the same stage, and it celebrates the vitality and creative freedom of sculpture, especially large sculpture that inhabits a public space.

After 21 years, Sculpture by the Sea has become an integral part of the Australian art scene, so that today, it would be impossible to write a history of sculpture in this country without a discussion of the exhibitions in Bondi and their sister exhibitions in Cottesloe in Perth.

Sculpture to Memorialize Chattanooga's Fallen

Story Number: NNS150814-08Release Date: 8/14/2015 10:58:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael J. Lieberknecht, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) -- A sculpture honoring the service members killed last month is set to be unearthed on Sept. 1 at Sculpture Fields in Montague Park.

The sculpture, currently being formed in an underground mold, will represent the four Marines and one Sailor who were killed in Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga shooting on July 16.

"I think we need to come together to honor their lives and do something significant," said Peter Lundberg, professional sculptor from Middlebury, Vermont.

Lundberg and his team have been working on the project all day and into the night for about a week. Today Lundberg was walking on top of the mound of soil under which the statue currently rests. He was treating the concrete, which was poured Tuesday, with a hose, spraying water strategically around the site. A ceremony will be held 9 a.m. Sept. 1 to unearth the statue and stand it upright.

Lundberg said the abstract sculpture, a hand reaching toward the sky, will be about 60 feet tall. Visitors to the park will be able to walk through and stand inside the sculpture..

"I want it to be somewhat open to interpretation," said Lundberg. "This is a national tragedy and we're all connected to this in a real way."

The working title for the sculpture is "Five Anchors Strong" and Lundberg has placed five anchors within the concrete. He says he's not sure if they will be completely visible after completion of the project, but observers should be able to see portions of them.

Sculpture Fields at Montague Park has several completed sculptures scattered around the vast open field but Lundberg's memorial to the fallen will easily stand out among the others.

"Its got some of the Chattanooga earth in the design, and will be pulled out to reach toward the sky," said Lundberg.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Aug. 13, 2015) Peter Lundberg, a sculptor from Middlebury, Vt., moistens a concrete mold. The sculpture, entitled "Five Anchors Strong," will be unearthed Sept. 1 in honor of the four Marines and one Sailor who were killed as a result of the shooting in the Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga July 16. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (Aug. 13, 2015) Peter Lundberg, a sculptor from Middlebury, Vt., moistens a concrete mold. The sculpture, entitled "Five Anchors Strong," will be unearthed Sept. 1 in honor of the four Marines and one Sailor who were killed as a result of the shooting in the Navy Operational Support Center Chattanooga July 16. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

Peter Lundberg creates sculpture to honor Chattanooga heroes

Work continues on what will be a 50-foot-high steel sculpture to honor the service members who died during the July 16 shooting in Chattanooga.

The sculpture-created by Peter Lundberg-will serve as a symbolic tribute when it is officially raised Sept. 1 at 9 a.m. The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

Lundberg’s sculpture will be the 18th installation at the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park. The unique sculpture will begin underground as a steel structure. A concrete cast will be formed and cured. It will then be unearthed with a large crane and moved to its standing position.

“For the people of Chattanooga who have recently lost loved ones, it is impossible for me to express my sadness,” Lundberg said in a statement. “My sculptures are inspired by nature and express rudimentary elements of life, nature, science, spirituality and passion. I hope the families of the fallen and the entire community see this sculpture not as a memorial, but as a tribute-a celebration of their lives.”

Examples of Lundberg’s work can be viewed here.

The original idea of the Sculpture Fields at Montague Park was to create a world-class sculpture garden with “larger-than-life monumental art.” The park will eventually include walking paths, a water feature, a children’s hands-on sculpture garden and an amphitheater. It will also include 75 monumental works of sculpture from all over the world.

Raising of Sculpture at Harbor Square

42-foot tall sculpture by renowned sculptor Peter Lundberg to be feature of new waterfront park by GDC at Harbor Square

By Lanning Taliaferro, Patch Staff | Jun 22, 2015 5:58 pm ET


From Ginsburg Development Companies:

Ginsburg Development Companies and Ossining Village officials met today to raise a monumental sculpture that was molded in the earth at the new public waterfront park and promenade being built at GDC's Harbor Square luxury rental complex in Ossining.

The towering 42-foot tall, 80-ton sculpture, which was commissioned by Harbor Square developer Martin Ginsburg, is the creation of internationally known sculptor Peter Lundberg, whose work is in collections around the world. 

The sculpture was made by framing trenches dug on the site with stainless steel and pouring concrete into the trench. It will face the Hudson River and serve as the centerpiece for the new waterfront park and promenade that GDC is building as part of the Harbor Square complex. The park will also include a children's playground and new riverfront restaurant which is currently under construction. Dedication of the new park and promenade is scheduled for September at which time a second monumental sculpture from a sculptor in Portugal is expected to be installed at the park.

"We are delighted to have this magnificent sculpture by renowned sculptor Peter Lundberg as the showpiece of the beautiful public waterfront park and promenade we are building at Harbor Square. Art is a very important part of our daily lives and we are proud to incorporate it into the public spaces of our residential communities," said Ginsburg.

Ginsburg has a passion for public art at his residential communities. Just across the Hudson River from Harbor Square, Lundberg sculptures are featured at GDC's Harbors at Haverstraw development. In June, GDC will be finishing the Sculpture Trail & Promenade at Harbors which will include another large monumental sculpture. It will be the fourth major sculpture on the 1.5-mile long public promenade at the Harbors waterfront in Haverstraw. 

Ginsburg, whose company has been building homes in the Hudson Valley for more than 50 years, has a vision of creating sculpture trails along other rivertown waterfronts from New York City to Albany and combining with Dia Art Foundation in Beacon and Storm King Art Center in New Windsor to create the largest outdoor museum in the world. "What better place to showcase world-class sculpture than along one of the world's greatest and most beautiful rivers," said Mr. Ginsburg.

"I am delighted to continue to work with Martin Ginsburg to create significant pieces of public art along the Hudson River. The experience of creating this piece was made all the more special by staying in the Village of Ossining and getting to know the people of Ossining during its fabrication. I hope all area residents, especially the children, will come and enjoy this new waterfront park and this new beacon on the river that we raise today," said Lundberg.

Lundberg's sculptures are in collections in eight U.S. states and five countries including Australia, China, Germany, Norway and Sweden). Locally, his work can also be seen at the Storm King Art Center and at the entrance of the George Washington Bridge off the Henry Hudson Parkway.

Meanwhile, construction is moving ahead at Harbor Square, a $65 million luxury rental complex featuring 188 luxury rental apartments. Located across from the Ossining Metro North station, Harbor Square will have a mix of studios and 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom apartments, many with balconies with breathtaking views of the Hudson River. Resort-style amenities will include full service concierge, rooftop club lounge; rooftop pool and deck with cabana seating, BBQ stations and outdoor bar with TV; first-class spa and fitness center offering available personal trainers and spa treatments. Occupancy at Harbor Square is scheduled for spring 2016. 

Harbor Square is the latest resort-style luxury rental community under development by GDC in the Hudson Valley. Last fall, GDC broke ground on River Tides at Greystone, a 330-unit luxury rental complex in Yonkers. GDC began construction in May on The Lofts on Saw Mill River in Hastings-on-Hudson, and this month in Rockland County GDC opened the leasing center for Riverside, a 106-unit luxury apartment residence at the Harbors-at-Haverstraw community. 

Founded in 1964 by principal Martin Ginsburg, Ginsburg Development Companies is a premier residential developer in the northern suburbs of New York City. With 50 years of experience and market leadership, GDC has built many of the region's most successful and prestigious luxury developments, many with a Hudson River and/or transit-friendly focus, including Harbors at Haverstraw, Livingston Ridge in Dobbs Ferry, Ichabod's Landing in Sleepy Hollow, Mystic Pointe in Ossining, Marbury Corners in Pelham and Christie Place in Scarsdale. GDC's developments have won numerous design and community planning awards. In addition, GDC owns and manages a portfolio of commercial properties, located primarily in Westchester County, NY.

Photo caption: Standing at Harbor Square in front of the 42-foot tall sculpture as it was set in place by a crane are, from left, GDC Principal Martin Ginsburg; Ossining Village Mayor Victoria Gearity, New York State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Sculptor Peter Lundberg.

Exhibition at Thompson Estate

Thompson Estate invites you and your friends to an exhibition of works by internationally renowned American sculptor


Saturday 1 March 2014 3pm - 6pm at Thompson Estate

299 Tom Cullity Drive (formerly Harman's Road South)

Wilyabrup, Western Australia

Thompson Estate wines will be served. Guests are welcome to picnic in the grounds.

Coffee and light food will also be for sale.

Please let us know if you plan to attend.

RSVP and Enquiries: 0459 592 710 or

Peter Lundberg creates monumental sculptures from earth, cement and steel. Peter has exhibited internationally and his works are held in private, corporate and government collections in the USA, Germany, Scandinavia, China and Australia.

In March 2012, Peter exhibited at Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe with his work being acquired by the Town of Cottesloe and in October 2012 he was the winner of the Major Prize at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi.

As Sculptor in Residence at Thompson Estate, Peter Lundberg will create a number of works in situ, incorporationg earth and materials from the vineyard. Alongside these site specific works, Peter's recent large bronze work Ring and a collection of small bronze sculptures will be exhibited.

The exhibition of works will be open to the public 11am - 5pm daily until the end May 2014. All works are for sale.

Free Guided Public Tours - the artist will host free public tours of the exhibition on Sunday 2 March 2014 at 11am and 3pm. Tours for groups and individuals are also available at other times by appointment.

Peter Lundberg's website:


Peter Lundberg, internationally acclaimed and renowned sculptor from Vermont USA has arrived in the

South West of WA to be Sculptor in Residence at Thompson Estate Margaret River vineyard, throughout February and March 2014. His works will be on display to the public from 1 March until the end of May 2014.

Peter creates monumental sculptures from earth, cement and steel. Recent works have also been cast in bronze. His works are held in private, corporate and government collections in the USA, Germany, Scandinavia, China and Australia. Peter has also founded and co-founded sculpture parks in the USA and Scandinavia.

Peter’s work is well known in WA, through his recent participation in Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe. One of his pieces Wuyi was acquired by the Town of Cottesloe and is now located at the intersection of Marine Parade and Curtin Avenue, Cottesloe. He will again be participating in the 2014 Sculptures by the Sea Cottesloe (7 March – 24 March 2014).

During the Sculptor in Residence program at Thompson Estate, Peter will create a number of works in situ, incorporating earth and materials from the vineyard. In addition to the site specific Margaret River works, the large bronze work Ring (measuring approximately 5 x 7 metres) and a collection of Peter's small bronze sculptures will also be on display at the vineyard until end of May 2014.

Alexandrea Thompson, of Thompson Estate said that the vineyard team is eagerly looking forward to hosting the exhibition of the works by the internationally renowned sculptor, and for the visitors to the vineyard to observe Peter’s sculpture process in action and on display.

‘We are delighted that Peter Lundberg has chosen to work with Thompson Estate and utilise the unique Margaret River terrain in his sculptures’.

Media are invited to a launch with Peter Lundberg at 10am on Sunday 16 February 2014.

An official public launch will take place at Thompson Estate on Saturday 1 March 2014 at 3pm.

Free public tours with Peter will take place on Sunday 2 March at 11am and 3pm. Additional tours can be arranged via appointment.

The exhibition will be open to the public 11am – 5pm daily until the end of May 2014, and all works on display are for sale.

For all enquiries and to arrange an interview or a personal viewing of the works with Peter Lundberg please contact:

Alexandrea Thompson

Thompson Estate 

Phone: 0459 592 710



About Thompson Estate

Thompson Estate is a family owned vineyard located in Wilyabrup in the heart of the Margaret River region which was founded by cardiologist Dr Peter L. Thompson AM and his wife Jane in 1994. Thompson Estate adheres to the highest standards in viticulture and winemaking, and produces award winning wines.

Thompson Estate is rated a “Five Red Star” winery by James Halliday, placing it in the top echelon of Australian wineries.

Thompson Estate’s philanthropic commitments include support of medical research and the arts. They sponsor events such as the popular Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe, Perth Fashion Festival and support organisations such as the Art Gallery of WA, the University of Western Australia and Fremantle Press.

Thompson Estate wines are available for tasting at the Barrel Room 11am – 5pm daily. 299 Tom Cullity Drive Wilyabrup

About Peter Lundberg

Peter Lundberg was born in Wisconsin USA in 1961. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and a Masters Degree in Fine Art (Sculpture).

In the course of establishing his career as an artist Peter undertook apprenticeships with some of the world’s foremost sculptors, including Mark Di Suvero, John Henry and the Alexander Calder Foundation.

Peter currently resides in Vermont, USA with his wife Yan.

Artist’s statement: ‘I think of my sculptures as a view into my unconscious mind, a landscape of very primitive things, rudimentary elements of life, nature, science, spirituality and passion. For both the maker and viewer, sculpture, like music, carries a beat, a pulsing motion directed to and from the soul that when revelled in takes us into dreamlike states of mind. This state leads to questions and answers, uncovering mysteries, which ultimately give meaning to life’s journey.

The process of creation becomes just as crucial as its end goal, which once reached makes it all the more important from the exertion it took. When I take time to appreciate that gruelling, dirty and contemplative process that makes art, I find myself rewarded by a greater understanding. The labour, pain, and love of my efforts not only give me meaning but also make me feel alive. Art brings this journey into focus; the sculpture marks its destination’.

Sculpture by the Sea 2013

November 9, 2013 by John McDonald

It was not the best of times, it was not worst of times. The 17th annual Sculpture by the Sea (SxS) features the usual mix of pieces that might be described as ‘serious’ sculpture, and others that are little more than gimmicks. It has become a familiar recipe but seems to go down well with the crowds that traipse up and down the foreshores every year between Bondi and Tamarama. This weekend is your last chance to join the party.

There will always be complaints that SxS is a sideshow rather than a credible exhibition of contemporary art, but there are so many dull, pretentious things in prestigious museums one can’t be snobbish about an event that makes a point of being democratic and inclusive. For a show that lasts only two-and-a-half weeks the popularity of SxS is staggering. Naturally, popularity cannot be equated with quality, but neither should it rule out the possibility.

SxS is a carnival, but also a logistical exercise of mammoth proportions. To get the measure of this year’s show one has to look at individual works, the nature of the installation, and all the organisational details that add value to the experience.

To start with the last category, this year marks the beginning of a major sponsorship by the Macquarie Group, who have donated $60,000 for an acquisitive first prize. Along with the usual raft of corporate supporters there is also extra funding from Nicola and Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation; a contribution by the NSW State Government, and even – gasp! – from the Australia Council. The catalogue lists no fewer than nine prizes, and a long list of artist subsidies and mentorships; including three scholarships from the Helen Lempriere Foundation, worth $30,000 each – awarded to emerging sculptors Lucy Humphrey and Francesca Mataraga; and veteran, Paul Selwood.

It’s pleasing to see the Macquarie Group take up the cause of sculpture again after the success of the National Sculpture Prize held at the National Gallery of Australia in 2001, 2003 and 2005. This exhibition might still be running if the NGA hadn’t changed its mind about the nature of the prize and derailed a lucrative sponsorship.

The new sponsorships recognise that SxS has reached the point where it is more than an exhibition. It is playing a key role in the development and dissemination of Australian sculpture, both at home and abroad. Indeed, there are a large number of artists who owe whatever public profile they enjoy in this country almost solely to their participation in these shows. This includes international regulars such as Keld Moseholm from Denmark, and a group of Japanese sculptors.

Another important feature of SxS is its willingness to pay homage to senior figures in Australian art that have recently passed away – a practice in which our public galleries are woefully deficient. This year the selection includes two pieces by Bert Flugelman (1923-2013), one of this country’s best-known public sculptors. They span the beginning and end of Flugelman’s career, ranging from a biomorphic piece called Equestrian (1967) to a trademark stainless steel work, Semaphore (2000).

For all these reasons one may make allowances for the ups and downs of selection and installation. As always, Mark’s Park is the centre of the show, with the greatest concentration of sculptures. It’s been proven in the past that this area needs a large, powerful work or two to anchor the mass of smaller pieces that cluster on all sides. This year that anchor is missing. Many of the bigger pieces, such as Stephen King’s Fallout, which won this year’s major prize; and Returning to sea, by last year’s winner, Peter Lundberg, are positioned on the edge of the central space. The Park has an anarchic feel, as if the sculptors rushed in and staked their claims like hopeful prospectors on the gold fields.

The other concentration of sculptures, on the beach and in the park at Tamarama, is no improvement. If it seems unreasonable to expect any organisation to do better with such a diverse body of work, I can’t help thinking that placements were more shrewdly conceived in the days when Axel Arnott was site manager. It’s Philip Wadds’s first year in this demanding job and he needs to be given a chance to settle in and learn the ropes.

The task may have been made more difficult this year by a larger-than-usual percentage of first-timers, including a battalion of sculptors from New Zealand who have finally awakened to the opportunities afforded by SxS. It’s great to inject new blood into the show, but the experienced artists have a much better sense of the challenges posed by this unique setting.

One perennial issue is that SxScan only be as good as the quality of entries it receives. After 17 years it’s hardly surprising if some of the sculptures have a feeling of déjà vu, or fall into predictable categories. This doesn’t mean these works are to be dismissed. Keizo Ushio’s artful interlocking rings carved from granite are no less impressive for being familiar. Vince Vozzo’s elegant Moon Buddha is another successful variation on a theme, as is Mitsuo Takeuchi’s Transfiguration engage VII.

Among the biggest surprises was prize-winner, Stephen King, whose Fallout is the most abstract piece he has ever contributed to SxS. Apparently the inspiration came from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but it has formal echoes of work by American sculptor, Mark di Suvero, and of Tiwi burial poles. The three standing components seem to be wedged together by makeshift cross bars, forestalling a collapse.

Peter Lundberg’s work resembles a gigantic infinity sign to which one further loop has been appended. It’s an outlandish thought – suggesting that something might be added to infinity, possibly via the medium of art. Made from bronze, the piece is has a dense materiality that contradicts its conceptual daring.

There was much discussion about how Ayako Saito has made a work that seems to outgun Ron Robertson-Swann at his own game. Saito’s Grove is an abstract metal sculpture of interlocking planes, painted the same vivid yellow as Robertson-Swann’s famous public sculpture, Vault (1980) – otherwise known disparagingly as ‘the Yellow Peril’. It’s an extraordinary gag for a Japanese sculptor, but there is nothing funny about the work itself, which is as crisply constructed as an origami crane.

Robertson-Swann’s piece, by contrast, is a severe, grey composition, called Weighty Matters. Four vertical L-shapes are overlaid by a single steel plank, from which a metal square dangles precariously. The sculpture was started many years ago, but only recently completed when Robertson-Swann had a Eureka moment. The work feels like a period piece alongside other abstract metal sculptures by artists such as Michael Le Grand and Philip Spelman. There is a lyricism in these works – a quality that Robertson-Swann appears to deliberately avoid.

A similar geometric austerity may be found in Jörg Plickat’s work, Encounter, which reads like an angular variation on a Clement Meadmore. Plickat’s monumental simplicity bears contrast with the complexity of Paul Selwood’s The museum, in which clipped planes of metal huddle and overlap in playful abundance.

It may be a generalisation but the abstract works in this year’s show are far more appealing than the figurative pieces. This is quietly appropriate in the week following the death of the great British abstract sculptor, Anthony Caro (1924-2013).

Julio Gonzalez and David Smith did much to establish the credentials of welded metal sculpture, but Caro was more productive and inventive than any sculptor of the modern era. A compact survey of his work, held at the Museo Correr during this year’s Venice Biennale, served as a reminder of his achievements. In an era bewitched by the ‘smoke and mirrors’ of artists such as Anish Kapoor, it was inspiring to see sculptures that demonstrated such mastery of space and form.

An aesthetically successful piece makes one less tolerant of works that rely on a political statement to have an impact. Tunni (Anthony) Kraus has dumped part of the wreck of an old fishing trawler on Tamarama beach, telling us it “may have once carried asylum seekers”. Anthony Sawrey has painted red lines on the grass in the adjacent park, charting the possible progress of tide levels through global warming. I’m no scientist, but it seems an overly pessimistic prediction.

There will always be room for such pieces in SxS, but if one had to isolate a quality that really gets viewers excited it wouldn’t be political correctness or formal elegance. More than anything, SxS visitors love works that are photogenic: works such as Silvia Tuccimei’s Passage secret, which allows one to stand in the midst of a shining loop of stainless steel, or Qian Sihua’s Bubble No. 5 – a bright red, round head blowing a bubble of similar shape. Best of all may be Lucy Humphrey’s Horizon, a large glass sphere filled with water that reflects the meeting of sky and ocean in inverted form. With this modest but effective device Humphrey is doing what every artist aspires to do: she turns our world upside-down.

Published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 9 November, 2013.

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14-May-2013  Sculpture by the Sea

Peter Lundberg's sculpture 'Barrel Roll' was unveiled by Robyn Parker the New South Wales Government Minister for the Environment at the Domain in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney.  Peter received the Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize of $70,000 at last years Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi for ‘Barrel Roll’ with the work installed in the Botanic Gardens as part of the acquisitive prize.  Joining Minister Parker on the day were Neil and Hamish Balnaves of the Balnaves Foundation, the Consul-General of the USA Niels Marquardt and the Director of the Botanic Gardens Professor David Mabberley.

'Barrell Roll' is the fourth sculpture installed in the Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney thanks to the Balnaves Foundation with the list of works comprising the Sculpture by the Sea Collection:

  • 2009 'Time and Tide Granite Monolith II'

              May Barrie (NSW)

  • 2010 'Mirroring'

              Keld Moseholm (Denmark)

  • 2011 'Paradiegma metaphysic'

              Paul Selwood (NSW)

  • 2012 'Barrel Roll'

              Peter Lundberg (USA)

Peter Lundberg's sculpture is created within the earth by digging a large hole to create a concrete cast, the cast is then exhumed with a crane with the sculpture was created in Sydney for the Bondi exhibition. The  sculpture was named after Peter’s experience surfing at Whale Beach, however he didn't discover until later that ‘barrel roll’ is in fact an Australian surfing term used to describe a type of wave.

'Barrell Roll' impressed the Sculpture by the Seajudging panel with it's "…majestic scale, its visceral energy and impact in the natural setting." It is now sited with a backdrop of the Botanic Gardens, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House where it can be enjoyed all year round.

Peter Lundberg,  barrel roll ,  Balnaves Sculpture by the Sea Collection , Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo Jaime Plaza  .

Peter Lundberg, barrel rollBalnaves Sculpture by the Sea Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens. Photo Jaime Plaza.

U.S. Consul General Niels Marquardt, Neil Balnaves of the Balnaves Foundation, Environment Minister Robyn Parker, David Handley, Founding Director, Sculpture by the Sea, Professor David Mabberley, Executive Director, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust  .

U.S. Consul General Niels Marquardt, Neil Balnaves of the Balnaves Foundation, Environment Minister Robyn Parker, David Handley, Founding Director, Sculpture by the Sea, Professor David Mabberley, Executive Director, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust.