I headed down to Lorne on Saturday morning for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. Despite the organisers moving the event from November to March to make the most of Autumn’s pleasant weather, Mother Nature had other plans. On the first day of the three week event, grey misty clouds hung low over Lorne as the sun struggled to make an appearance. But no one seemed to mind as crowds descended on the seaside resort for the first day of the sculpture biennale featuring approximately 40 contemporary three-dimensional works along the beachfront, 40 small scale sculptures in the church hall, as well as workshops, tours, talks and performance art. There are also many separate projects in the Sculpturescape program which gives visitors the opportunity to see a sculpture develop before their eyes as artists create site specific work down near the swing bridge.
In the afternoon, we all packed into the Mantra’s function room for the official opening of the sculpture exhibition to find out who was going to be the recipient of the $75,000 Trail Sculpture commission which gives one lucky artist the opportunity to create a major new permanent sculpture for Lorne.
Tony Ellwood, Director of the NGV, announced the winner of the lucrative grant is Louise Paramor from Melbourne. Paramor’s The Wild Card #6 (polar), assembled from found objects, impressed the judges who all felt an “emotional connection” to the work. Ellwood noted that the artist was “particularly inventive and brave” and had extended her practice with this sculpture.
Louise Paramor states in the exhibition catalogue:
The use of fibreglass animals is a recent addition to my ‘palette’ of found materials, opening up a whole new area of exploration where the ‘animals’ are treated much like formal elements, and are abstracted via subversion. This addition to my oeuvre brings a new and refreshing dimension to my sculptures, potentially challenging the limits of the ready-made.
BIO: Born Sydney 1964. Louise Paramor graduated from Western Australian Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting (1985) and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Sculpture at the Victorian College of the Arts (1988). Paramor has regularly exhibited her work nationally and internationally since 1988 and has been awarded several grants including an Australia Council Fellowship at the Kunstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin, 1999-2000. In 2010 she won the prestigious McClelland Sculpture Survey and Award with her piece Top Shelf. She has been commissioned for a number of permanent public sculptures, the most recent being the monumental Panorama Station, Peninsula Link Freeway, Melbourne (2012).
The Small Sculpture Award went to Roh Singh who receives $2500 for his work Reverb Bird 111, made from acrylic and wood.
Roh Singh’s explains in the exhibition catalogue:
In this series of sculptures I have focused on the point where things begin and end; where real and artificial delineate, or where an object exists and where it ceases to be. This insoluble contradiction where neither and both exist simultaneously is where I attempt to situate my own works. By designing my initial forms on computer I view the resulting works as virtual ghosts or phantoms of forms which allude to another invisible and otherworldly state.
BIO: Singh’s practice focuses on the limitations of sculpture, on the intangible as physical form. He is interested in pushing the very boundaries of what form is. Through this pioneering investigation, Singh manifests new forms, not previously realised. Singh leads studios in Sculpture and Installation for the Department of Art and Design at Swinburne University. Completing his BFA (Hons1) Monash University 2002, in 2006 Singh received an Australia Council Grant to create new work. In 2007 he was a finalist for the Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award. Singh was a finalist in the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition 2012 and 2013. He is currently a candidate completing an MA-Art in the Public Space at RMIT University, Melbourne.
Singh’s sculpture is one of forty sculptures on display in the Uniting Church Hall as part of the Collectors Project. All these works are small in scale and sit within an affordable price range ranging from $500 to $5000.
Other awards were also announced in what had become a marathon round of speeches.
The $5000 Scarlett Award, for the best written critical writing about sculpture went to South Australian John Neylon for his review on Fiona Hall’s ‘Big Game Hunting’. It is available to read on the Lorne Sculpture website.
Jackie Ralph was awarded the Career Development Award which is given to an emerging artist or an artist not represented by a commercial gallery. Ralph wins a solo exhibition package in the upstairs gallery of Mars Gallery, Port Melbourne.
On a personal note, I would like to give a special mention to a sculpture that had an emotional impact on me – Richard Savage’s Terror Australis. It is powerful, confronting and made my heart ache. His work references an old photo of Aborigines chained together, linked with metal collars around their necks. In Savage’s work, the faceless figures, constructed from chains as though bound to the sins of the past, manifest a ghostly presence. This is Australia’s shameful history laid bare. Go see this work up close – my photo doesn’t do it justice.
Like his work, Savage’s artist statement in the exhibition catalogue doesn’t pull any punches:
Australian Aborigines have been treated like animals or worse since White Occupation. They have been murdered, removed from their lands and have had their children taken from them. No humiliation was too much: chaining Aborigines, guilty or innocent allowed pastoralists, miners and other white interests to take Aboriginal land with impunity. This is European justice: really it’s no justice at all. Today the gaols are filled with a disproportionate number of Aborigines, male and female, adult and child. There is no justice in Australia for Aborigines. My sculpture is based on a photo taken outside Roebourne Gaol in 1896. Its smiling constables reminded me of the Abu Ghraib photos from the Iraq War.
The first day of the biennale concluded with an inspiring performance, 5 Minutes to Midnight, by art troupe Climarte, to highlight the urgent need to act on climate change. Against the backdrop of the incoming tide, and accompanied by string musicians, a chorus of angels heralded the danger of inaction. With two of the angels towering metres into the air, fabric and feathers billowing in the wind, they made a spectacular sight, reminding me of the Winged Victory of Samothrace. Beneath their feet, the words ‘Coal Requiem’ were spelt out in charcoal and seaweed on the sand. As I deciphered the words, I thought of Victoria’s dirtiest coal mine, Hazelwood, which has been burning out of control for weeks. Did I hear a whisper, “It’s time this polluting and outmoded industry is closed for good”?
The Lorne Sculpture Biennale runs until the end of March. Check out the Lorne Sculpture Biennale website for all the details. Visitors can cast their vote for the $3000 People’s Choice award too.