Sculpture at Scenic World
22 February 12
Katoomba’s Scenic World has collaborated with local and national artists to showcase their rainforest valley with a sculptural exhibition. Sculpture at Scenic World is the green edition of the very popular Sculpture by the Sea which is on display on Sydney’s beaches in March.
We loved visiting the walkway that meanders through pristine rainforest. Our trek was made even better by the sculptures we saw on the forest floor or suspended from trees!
Twenty-six artworks are on display until the middle of March, and they vary greatly in quality, materials, size, price and meanings. In the manner of those who are accompanied with small children, we tried to extract meaning from each piece and explain it to the kids.
Sadly, with some pieces we failed. With others we simply admired the artist’s creation. Others were mystifying. What did it mean? And why did the judges include it?
The first piece is a metal bird. An emu, judging by its size. It looked a bit noisy with its mouth wide open, but we were misinterpreting the artist’s deeper message.
Topolnicki’s pieces are quite natural. I can imagine them decorating our garden. But with the bird priced at $13,000, I think we’ll purchase a round-the-world trip instead.
The next installation is very attractive. And cute. Soft, round animals in shiny metal? That’s a crowd-pleaser.
I wondered if I could pick up the wombats and take them home with me. And then I wondered why no one has stolen them. Is there some hidden surveillance or method for securing their presence? At $16,000 for the big one and $4,500 for the baby, it wouldn’t be a bad investment.
A closer look shows that the pod is quilted together with fabric on which is written gibberishy poems in several different languages. Or perhaps they aren’t gibberish, but I couldn’t make sense of the English or French facets!
This would be quite an easy artwork to imitate, and it reminds me of the hot air balloon craft that the girls and I made when we lived in a house in a galaxy far away and a time long ago. Perhaps one day we’ll make something like this.
The next artwork along the track is around a bend. A huge, gothic-looking chandelier hangs in a natural clearing.
It’s a lovely piece, but the lack of symmetry distracts me. I also wonder how well it will handle its time in the weather. Would a buyer still pay $15,000 if it has started to rust?
Next, there are the pods. Immediately they look like they suit the location and really, invite a hug. Maybe I think they’re Moomins.
Although it doesn’t appear in the picture, a trio of round river stones sit to one side of the smaller pod. They belong so well with the sculpture. I like this installation very much but decide that at $30,000 for the set, I’ll have to settle for a photograph.
Each artwork at Sculpture at Scenic World is labelled with a large alphabet letter, so when I see the letter F pinned to the side of the walkway, I look in the forest for the sculpture. It takes a bit of wandering around before I discover that I need to look up, directly up, above the walkway.
Above me, metal leaves are strung across the boardwalk. They are etched with geometric forms, perhaps they’re even pictures. Jess, the environmentalist with whom we’re sharing the day, wonders aloud about the impact the copper run-off would have on this pristine rainforest.
I can afford one of Heidi Kenyon’s pieces; it’s probably the only artwork here that is within our budget. One leaf is $300 if unframed or $380 framed. Do I want to build an art portfolio? Not really, but this sculpture walk has gotten me [re]thinking about investing in art.
The next piece is easy to spot, but it remains unremarkable because it blends into the background. I can’t focus clearly on the shapes to determine if the work is meaningful or abstract.
For our family, the “Rod of Aaron” is the one who holds the stick and leads on our bush-walks. But this artwork doesn’t lead anywhere. I’m disappointed in this particular installation and wish the judges hadn’t included it in the exhibition.
Yet, in perfect contrast to the disappointment I feel with the Rod of Aaron, a shimmering rainbow box sits on an elevated platform to one side. There’s a small side-alley on the boardwalk, and it leads to a position where you can glimpse Katoomba Falls through the branches.
And here sits the Rainbow Fairy’s Tardis. It’s a mirror box in jewelled hues.
This one I do want to take home. Or just have somewhere so I can gaze at it each day. Surely it makes the world a better place if it’s more colourful?
Cassandra Scott-Finn’s website shows that she is creative beyond just about anybody’s imagining. Except hers, of course.
Next on the track is the Smurfs’ flower garden. Little orange and blue flowers start popping out of the ground and collect in patches under the trees. Beautiful.
A lot of work would have gone into this installation. Its impact is in the repetition of the pieces, just like in natural flowerbeds.
Up ahead, strange women figures are suspended in the trees. It takes a while to see the front and back of each piece, as we have to wait for the wind to swing the artwork around.
Quotes on the backs of the include “Nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes”, “In the spider’s web of facts, many a truth is strangled”, “You cannot find peace by avoiding life” and “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment to improve the world”. They’re great for tweeting. Stand by.
Although I like the contrast of the bright red against the dark greens of the forest, I feel that this sculpture is lacking anything that makes it special. It reminds me of the lampshades that came through the homewares shops a couple years ago, and I was shocked to learn that Greer Taylor was chosen as the inaugural winner of this exhibition. Blah… art… what do I know? But wasn’t there something like this for sale in Ikea?
Now, this is art. It’s not my style as I’m not really a classical girl, but I can appreciate the talent that goes into creating something like this. And it will weather well — for $13,000 you’d hope so!
And this is clearly art as well. Classical, yes, and exuding talent in the carving. Plus its display on the easel contrasts nicely with the huge boulder. But Greer’s piece? Puh-leeese. How is that art?
So we’ll skip all the art-talk and now have a brief interlude of spot-the-art. Because although the letter was clearly attached to the fence, it took quite a bit of looking to see the small pieces hidden in the leaves.
It didn’t help that with each rain-drop, the forest floor splats a small piece of itself onto the jars. And the colour of the golden clouds blended in really well with the yellow fallen leaves. Was that the artist’s intention? And why is her name prefaced with a “Dr” in the guide book? Can you get a doctorate in art? And who would pay $1,200 for three jars with a bit of gold-painted clay in them? Clearly, I am out of the loop.
The artist explains, “The narrative evolves around a central character who deals with the implication of wearing a bunny suit. The guise he adopts, a signifier of difference, brings him comfort but causes further isolation. When he finds another like himself, they brace to face the world together.”
Which kinda makes sense. But it’s still weird.
Beautiful. Simple. Imitable. $5000. Any questions?
While looking at this artwork, I could immediately work out the symbolism of infinity in its form. And it is so perfectly positioned in a shaft of sunlight that reflects off the pressed-metal surfaces. Lovely and imaginative from this artist who usually does paintings.
Simon McGraths’ other works are along similar lines — simple, witty and sharp. It’s the kind of artwork that makes me ask — why didn’t I think of that?
This next installation is mesmerising. It looks like fairy houses.
Each house only costs $66 each, so I thought about buying a couple for the girls. They’re perfect for imaginative play and would make beautiful circles on the grass. Or maybe we’ll just continue to create fairy landscapes with flowers.
I like the colours, I like the shapes, I don’t like the endorsement by a paint company in my booklet. Why do so many people sell out to advertising? Isn’t $8,900 enough to afford your own paint?
The next one is a favourite. It’s so organic and evocative.
As I stand looking at it, it spins gently, changing shape from angel-wings into a flower. Just lovely. Short’s other pieces are just as beautiful. I think Sea Pod is well worth its modest $3,500 price-tag. Don’t you think it would look nice hanging in our shed? (My birthday is in June…)
When looking at it, I couldn’t make sense of the sculpture, but with the information provided by my handy guide (which costs just $10 from the gift-shop at the top of the mountain), I can fully understand this work. It speaks to me of a sadness that many feel because they’re enslaved by the things they own or want. Contentment with godliness is great gain.
And I was mystified when I first saw these pieces of perspex on the rainforest floor. Still am.
Even the title “Amber 302” is a misnomer. In printing, 302 is the number for a dark blue colour — amber is more of 151. Unless Apostolides is more clever than I think and is deliberately labelling her pieces with a complementary colour, forcing me to think I’m looking at blue when I’m seeing amber. Hmmm. Tricky, that one.
This is an obvious masterpiece. It’s strong, gravity-defying and glistening in its shiny metallic contrast to the soft, natural plants around it. I like it, but not for $45,000.
I wanted to like this. It was the second artwork that we viewed (we toured the exhibition back-to-front) and yet it feels amateurish. The message is good, but the delivery seems unworthy.
This is artwork, clearly. It’s beautiful and robust. Clearly, Terrance Plowright is a professional sculptor. His work is amazing.
And so concludes the magnificent Sculpture at Scenic World exhibit. But I’ve saved the best for last.
What do you think? Do you have a favourite?