Winner of the Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize 2012 - Sculpture by the Sea exhibition opens

TOBY MANN   OCTOBER 18, 2012 5:00PM

THE stretch of coast between Sydney's Bondi and Tamarama beaches has again been transformed into an outdoor art gallery by the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.

Now in its sixteenth year, the exhibition was opened on Thursday by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, who hailed the economic benefits of the sprawling installation.

Starting as a one-day event in 1997, the exhibition will showcase 113 sculptures over 18 days from October 18 to November 4, with works from 77 Australian and 36 overseas artists.

This year, 500,000 visitors are expected to amble along the coastline, soaking up the sun and enjoying what has become the world's largest annual free outdoor sculpture exhibition.

American artist Peter Lundberg, who creates his sculptures by casting concrete into forms dug into the earth, won the annual $70,000 Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize, announced at the opening ceremony, for his work Barrel Roll.

"This is an exceptional surprise," he said on receipt of the award.

"This is a tremendous honour. It's great just to be part of this exceptional exhibition."

Mr Lundberg's sculpture will be placed in the Royal Botanic Gardens alongside works by the past three years prize winner's when the exhibition is over.

"I'm sure my sculpture will be happy in your garden," Mr Lundberg said.

Former Art Gallery of NSW senior curator and Balnaves Prize judge Terence Maloon said the panel had unanimously selected Mr Lundberg as this year's winner.

"Peter Lundberg's Barrel Roll impressed us with its majestic scale, its visceral energy and impact in the natural setting," he said.