$75,000 commission boosts Lorne Sculpture Biennale

I travelled down the scenic Great Ocean Road to Lorne on Sunday morning to hear the announcement by Arts minister, Heidi Victoria about the significant commission for Lorne Sculpture Biennale. At Qdos Arts, an open fire thawed the winter chill or perhaps it was the top-shelf champagne that warmed our hearts. Either way, the gallery was cosy, the atmosphere festive, and we all felt a tingly sensation induced by the promise of a substantial grant of cash from Arts Victoria.

The minister announced that $75,000 will be given to an artist in the Biennale to create a major permanent sculpture for Lorne.

Lorne Sculpture Biennale Heidi Victoria 1
Arts Minister, Heidi Victoria announces the special commission at Qdos Arts. Photo: Artin’ Geelong

The high profile judges for the Biennale, Tony Elwood (Director NGV) and Jason Smith (Director Heide), along with Paris-based Australian artist Heidi Wood, will decide who has created the best work in the exhibition, and the commission will be offered to that artist to produce a lasting legacy for Lorne.

Undoubtedly it will be a challenging task to choose the ‘best’ work from such a diverse selection of contemporary ‘sculpture’, some of which will not be object based and therefore not easily acquired for permanent exhibition. What happens if the best work is of a performative or ephemeral nature? According to Julie Collins, curator of the Biennale, the commission will enable the selected artist to work through a process “to achieve a public art outcome”.

“It really gives an artist who may never have done a public art piece before, an opportunity to step into a new career option,” she said.

I find this idea fascinating. What if the artist’s intention is not to produce a long lasting work? Can ephemeral works be turned into something permanent without compromising the integrity of the work? Or are there creative ways to make the work exist in perpetuity while maintaining its original intent?

Julie Collins, curator of Lorne Sculpture Biennale 2014 gave a passionate speech about the event to be held in March.  Photo: Artin’ Geelong

Julie Collins is definitely pushing the boundaries with Lorne Sculpture Biennale with an innovative program that reflects a diverse range of Australian contemporary sculpture and includes:

  • Sculpture Trail of 41 large sculptures along the foreshore
  • Sculpturescape where the audience will be able to see the artist make the work in front of their eyes, in real time
  • Small Sculptures of 40 smaller scale works
  • Performance art commissions including Domenico de Clario’s all night performance on the pier (rug up and bring a thermos)
  • Special commission for Heidi Wood to create a work incorporating QR codes to reveal images of work from previous Lorne exhibitions
  • The Ken Scarlett Award for critical writing about contemporary sculpture, named after Australian curator and writer Ken Scarlett
  • The Collectors Project to help build sustainable careers for sculptors by educating the public about purchasing a work of art
  • Workshops, guided tours, children’s activities and more events yet to be announced

The Biennale is a significant exhibition on the arts calendar and it will be an important event for Lorne with an estimated 30,000-50,000 people expected to visit the coastal town during March 2014. It is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before with over 100 artists in the running for $50,000 worth of prizes and now the $75,000 commission.

Lorne Sculpture President Peter Lamell was clearly thrilled about the commission and sees it as an important step towards creating an arts centre along the Great Ocean Road. “It is a real game changer for Lorne Sculpture Biennale,” he said at the announcement. “It’s a real game changer for Lorne, and I think it’s the start of what a lot of artists who are really passionate about Lorne believe – that Lorne could become the regional arts centre in Victoria.”

Lorne Sculpture Biennale Commission Announcement
President Peter Lamall presents Arts Minister Heidi Victoria with a book about Lorne Sculpture.  Photo: Artin’ Geelong

As I sipped on my bubbly, I tried to imagine Lorne in 10 years time, its picturesque setting distinguished by the public art on its foreshore, and perhaps an art school in the vicinity offering artist residencies and courses. I wondered if indeed Lorne will become a major regional arts hub – it is a big call – but the town certainly has the potential, and the state government has shown its interest in decentralising the arts with initiatives such as Small Towns Transformations. With such visionary optimism in the air (and a few champers under my belt), I couldn’t help but feel that this commission which builds on the solid foundation of the previous Lorne Sculpture events, signifies the beginning of something extraordinary!

Lorne Sculpture Biennale
Sat 8 March – Sun 30 March 2014

Lorne Sculpture 2011 Winners
Lorne Sculpture Photo Extravaganza
Shared Journey by Julie Collins and Derek John at Stockroom

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