December 10, 2019 13:58:21

From Sweden’s Ice Hotel to the coast of South Australia, five new installations have appeared in pockets of scrub across Granite Island as the ever-evolving Sculpture Encounters continues to draw visitors.

Key points:

  • Five new artworks installed at Granite Island off Victor Harbor
  • Sculpture Encounters is in its third year and features national and international artists
  • Inspired by annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions in NSW and WA

The ongoing installation is in its third year, offering a second home to many of the works that feature in Sculpture by the Sea — an exhibition that attracts 500,000 people to Sydney’s Bondi Beach and another 240,000 to Cottesloe in Perth annually.

Sculpture Encounters currently has about 24 pieces that are generally on three-year leases, with about four new pieces added every six months.

This time there are five, including the newly installed piece called Filter, by Italian Maurizio Perron, an artist of 30 years who has created works for spaces worldwide, including a functioning hotel in Sweden made from ice and snow.

The wooden sculpture, which featured at Bondi last month, has been installed on the island’s north-east shore, 630 metres across Encounter Bay via a causeway from Victor Harbor.

“Maurizio lives up in the north-west of Italy, right up high in the mountains, which is about as opposite as you could get to Granite Island,” curator David Handley said.

“We’ve got artists from eight countries across the world, from Slovakia, Denmark and South Africa, to China, Japan and the United States, so it’s really a major international collection in that sense.”

The vast majority of works, however, are Australian.

They include a new installation by Kangaroo Island’s Deborah Sleeman called Intervention, two colourful wind socks by Victoria’s Georgina Humphries, and a lighthouse equipped with a solar light by New South Wales’ Stephen Harrison.

“I was sailing around the top end of Australia a number of years ago and I saw a rock formation,” Ms Sleeman said.

“It was this straight rock impaled through another rock and it just spoke to me of intervention, violation.”

Ms Sleeman was able to walk Granite Island to choose the optimal location for her work.

“I just feel a real connection between this island and Kangaroo Island for some reason, and I just love the way it kind of interacted with the rocks here,” she said.

Ephemeral works that disappear over time

The sculptures are scattered across the island and can be viewed by walking trails, with the largest, a steel piece by SA’s Greg Johns, clearly visible from Victor Harbor.

There are also ephemeral works — installations made of natural materials that disappear over time — with at least one having all but disappeared already.

Hamish McMillan, from the adjacent town of Port Elliot, last week created an ephemeral work entitled Moment in Time.

It is a charcoal-based ring painted on the underside of an introduced tree that he considered a “sculptural form in itself”.

It is his second piece for Sculpture Encounters, after producing one of its earlier pieces three years ago.

“Public art I think has a large a part to play in bringing communities together,” Mr McMillan said.

“So after having my larger work exhibited at Cottesloe in Perth on the other side of the country, to be fortunate enough to have somewhere local that my friends, my family and the community can come and see, has been amazing.”

Artworks attracting interstate visitors

The artworks have attracted a wide mix of people to the island, including Victoria’s Rachel Wagner and her husband, who heard about the sculpture trail while staying at Cape Jervis on their way to Kangaroo island.

“We were told whatever we do, to come and see the sculptures at Granite Island,” she said.

“So the whole time we were on Kangaroo Island, while we were looking at the animals, we were waiting to come here too.

“You could not get a better setting and I love that they’re all from different places.”

Many locals have also been enjoying the artistic addition to Granite Island, even if their installation does draw some resistance from those who wanted the landscape left untouched.

Port Elliot’s Lisa Ballantine said she came back every few months with friends and their children.

“It’s a great place to take the young ones where it’s safe to walk around and it’s always somewhere different for them to explore,” she said.

“It also brings a little spark to the island, and the variety of sculptures and artists from around the world just opens your eyes a little bit.”

It is exactly the kind of response Mr Handley wants to hear, a curator who founded Sculpture by the Sea 23 years ago because he wanted to the world to have “more free things” that are accessible to everybody.

“You walk around and if you don’t like it, then hey, that’s fine,” he said.

“It’s not imposing itself too much on everyone, but if you do like it, it’s sort of a reinterpretation of Granite Island and gives another reason to come.”







First posted

December 10, 2019 12:17:21

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