On the Couch with David Handley

Arts Review David Handley On the CouchWho is David Handley?
Director of Sculpture by the Sea.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
I love running Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions in Bondi and Cottesloe but I would love to be able to give more of my time to grow the not for profit organisation that I started together with Shane Gould and her husband Milt Nelms. We aim to improve the aquatic skills of people in Fiji and beyond. The high incidence of death from accidental drowning in the developing world is one of the tragic and little known causes of death in the world. At the moment we are concentrating on Fiji where the rate of death from drowning as a proportion to the population, is 13 times higher than in Australia.

Who inspires you and why?
Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Winston Churchill and Václav Havel because they have transformed nations and the world. I am inspired by anyone who has a go and lives the life they want to lead while adding something to the world.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
I would love to be able to find the time to do another major project but limited resources of Sculpture by the Sea prevent that from happening at the moment.

Favourite holiday destination and why? 
Fiji for the swimming. The smiling and laughing faces and it’s so relaxing. I would also love to go back to Africa for a safari.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why? 
The Bondi coastal walk and the  northern beaches of Sydney for the spectacular scenery and great swimming beaches. Also Sydney’s great restaurants including Buon Ricordo, Lucio’s, Tetsuya’s and Icebergs Dining Room and Bar.

What are you currently reading? 
A book called The Flappers by Judith Mackrell with its series of short biographical tales of some of the leading females of the 1920s.  Also The Congress of Vienna and its Legacy: War and Great Power Diplomacy After Napoleon by Mark Jarrett.

What are you currently listening to? 
Bach concertos and Simon Marnie.

Happiness is? 
Waking up in the morning and realising I have nothing scheduled for the day. My wife’s smile and diving into the ocean.

What does the future hold for you? 
Trying to put Sculpture by the Sea on a more stable financial footing. Hoping to take some of my long overdue long service leave.  More exciting projects both within the context of Sculpture by the Sea and maybe something new.

At the age of 31, David Handley founded Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi in 1997 as a one day exhibition staffed by volunteers working from his lounge room.  Within three years the exhibition  had grown to be the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world featuring 100 sculptures by artists from around the world whose works transform the spectacular 2km Bondi beach coastal walk into a sculpture park viewed by an estimated 500,000 visitors over 18 days each year.

In 1998 David was commissioned to produce a series of five Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions around Australia for the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival ‘A Sea Change’. Since this time David and his team have produced a number of major outdoor exhibitions, notably Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe in Perth on the West Australian coast that has been held annually since 2005, growing to attract 220,000 visitors to view 70 sculptures by artists  from across the world.

In 2009 the first international edition of Sculpture by the Sea was staged in the City of Aarhus, Denmark under the patronage of TRH Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.  The Denmark exhibition proved to be as popular with the Danish public as Sculpture by the Sea is in Australia and is now staged every two years with the third exhibition to take place in June 2013.  The City of Aarhus has been chosen as the European Cultural Capital for 2017 with Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus to feature prominently.

In 2003 David oversaw the establishment of Sculpture by the Sea Incorporated as a not for profit entity to manage the Australian Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions. He has served on a number of boards including as a Trustee of the Australian Museum (2002 – 2010) and the USA based International Sculpture Centre (2008 – 2011).

In addition to Sculpture by the Sea, David stages the Fiji Swims, a series of open water ocean swimming races held in Fiji each year since 2004 (www.fijiswims.com) and in 2011 he established a free on-line information service for students considering studying at university in Australia called ‘What Degree? Which University?’ (www.whatdegreewhichuniversity.com).  In recent years David has begun to host and organise ‘Sculpture, Food & Wine’ tours to major sculpture parks and private collections in Denmark, Japan and New Zealand.

The 2015 Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi continues to Sunday 8 November. For more information, visit: www.sculpturebythesea.com for details.

Image: David Handley (supplied)