Sculpture by the Sea Bondi delayed to 2022

AAR-SBTS-B21-Marina-DeBris-Just-a-drop-in-the-oceanSculpture by the Sea has announced that this year’s Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi exhibition planned to open on 21 October would be postponed for the second year in a row due to the Public Health Orders in place across Sydney.

While plans are being considered for when it might be possible to stage the exhibition in 2022, organisers have continued to work with the Government, sponsors and donors to provide financial support for the exhibiting artists.

Sculpture by the Sea was announced this week as one of the many beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s $200 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. The not-for-profit organisation will receive $2 million over two years towards the Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions at Bondi and Cottesloe beach in Perth.

Importantly, this includes $500,000 to ensure all Australian artists in the Bondi and Cottesloe exhibitions over the next two years will each benefit from a safety net minimum amount of income of $4,500 each (an increase from the $3,000 for the Bondi exhibition provided by Create NSW and up from zero for the Cottesloe exhibition).

The RISE grant will cover the significant costs of implementing Covid Safe protocols (marshalls, cleaners etc), as well as making an important contribution to the event production costs. In addition, the grant enables the exhibition’s annual Sculpture Conference to continue with a move from Sydney to Perth, and the delivery of an expanded regional and greater metropolitan Schools Outreach Program during the year that reaches from Greystanes to Wilcannia, Kalgoorlie and Batlow.

“The support from the Federal Government’s RISE grant is tremendous for the approximately 200 Australian artists to exhibit in the combined four Bondi and Cottesloe exhibitions over the next two years, and for our organisation,” said David Handley, Founding & Artistic Director of Sculpture by the Sea.

“The artists, from every State and Territory in Australia, put their creativity, heart and soul into their sculptures and the collective financial support of $500,000 for artists at this extremely challenging time is of immense, almost incalculable importance.”

“This funding assists us in an environment when it is almost impossible to secure new corporate sponsors and when all of the revenue from last year’s Bondi exhibition was lost to the artists and our organisation.”

“This funding removes much of the pressure that we cannot control, pressure that makes it almost impossible to do what we love for others to enjoy. Thank you, thank you, to everyone who made the funding possible,” said Mr Handley.

In addition to artist support from the RISE grant, Sculpture by the Sea is pleased to announce Marina DeBris as the recipient of this year’s $30,000 Helen Lempriere Scholarship and Naja Utzon Popov, the granddaughter of Jørn Utzon, as the inaugural recipient of a new award to support Danish artists thanks to a major gift from Denmark.

Following her critically acclaimed and popular work Inconvenience Store in 2017, DeBris’ artwork Just a Drop in the Ocean will be created from objects washed up on Sydney beaches. The work intends to raise awareness about marine pollution, to encourage viewers to take a closer look at things we usually ignore and to rethink our consumer habits.

The Helen Lempriere Scholarship is designed to enable artists to further their artistic development through travel, study and the purchase of important new equipment, as well as support the artist’s inclusion in Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi. DeBris will use the scholarship to facilitate travel to collaborate with other artists; undertake millinery and other courses; update her studio and tools; and fabricate Just a Drop in the Ocean.

The scholarships are gifted as part of the Helen Lempriere Bequest, a charitable trust managed by Perpetual, providing scholarships with the aim to foster and promote contemporary Australian sculpture. Thirty-five artists from across Australia have received the Helen Lempriere Scholarship since 2010, with more than $1 million invested in the cultural life of Australia.

DeBris began picking up rubbish along beaches over 20 years ago. Her mission began when she moved to Venice beach, in California in 1999. Trained as a graphic designer at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, DeBris’ interest in the intersection of art and the environment has been a constant.

Her artwork has gained international attention and a solo exhibition at the National Maritime Museum earlier this year. In 2017, Inconvenience Store received three awards at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2017, including the Allens People’s Choice Prize and the Waverley Council Mayor’s Award.

“I was both surprised and thrilled to learn that I would be receiving the Helen Lempriere Scholarship. Sculpture by the Sea has been an important influence on my career since I returned to the Australian coastline,” said DeBris.

“A special thanks to them and Perpetual for believing in my mission! With this scholarship, I will not only be able to continue this work, but it will also enable me to improve my craft and upgrade my tools – as well as allowing me to afford space for the growing mountain of daily waste (supplies) I collect!” she said.

In partnership with the Denmark-based Friendship Society of Denmark, Australia and New Zealand (the ‘Friendship Society’), Sculpture by the Sea is pleased to announce Danish artist Naja Utzon Popov as the inaugural recipient of the new $15,000 Friendship Society of Denmark, Australia and New Zealand Danish Artist Award.

This new artist award supports Danish artists to exhibit at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi and aims to further Danish-Australian cultural ties. Thanks to the Friendship Society and the Australian private donors to Sculpture by the Sea, Utzon Popov is the first of ten Danish sculptors to receive the Danish Artist Award, which will continue with a new artist selected annually for the next decade.

Utzon Popov’s artwork entitled ‘Continuum 2021’ will be exhibited hanging down one of the sandstone cliffs on the Bondi coastal walk in next year’s exhibition. In receiving the award, Utzon Popov, as the granddaughter of Jørn Utzon, continues her family’s strong cultural links with Australia.

“I have followed Sculpture by the Sea for years and always greatly admired the work of previously-selected artists and the level of work,” said Said Utzon Popov. “To not only have my work selected but also to be awarded the Danish Artist Award is really a huge honour.”

“I am very thankful to the organisers and to the Friendship Society of Denmark, Australia and New Zealand for selecting my work, and also making the whole process of participating from such a distance much easier.”

“It’s very exciting to have my work shown in Australia for the first time and I know the work will be in good company with all the other artists selected,” said Popov.

Emerging artists Tom Buckland (ACT) and Capto Collective (NSW) were announced as the 2021 recipients of the Clitheroe Foundation Emerging Artist Mentor Program, alongside the yet-to-be-announced 2020 recipients Sian Watson (ACT) and Sivaan Walker (NSW). Each artist will receive $15,000 to create their sculptures and to undertake a 12-month mentorship with an established artist of their choice.

Sculpture by the Sea is set launch a new permanent sculpture trail in regional Australia early next year and has recently launched an online Schools Program for Term 4, which provides accessible educational resources and artistic inspiration to the thousands of children that would normally visit the exhibition each year on school trips.

“We know the Covid lockdown is very difficult for many and had hoped to delay the exhibition for a month or so to give us every chance of going ahead this spring, however events have overtaken us,” said Handley.

“There is something ironic in providing Marina DeBris with this well-deserved Helen Lempriere Scholarship, given her previous artwork at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi was titled Inconvenience Store.”

“We hope the inconvenience and tragedy of Covid will soon be behind all of us and look forward to presenting Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi in the future for everyone to enjoy,” said Handley.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi is the world’s largest, free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition, transforming the stunning 2km Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk in Sydney, Australia with over 100 sculptures from across the world each year. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Just a drop in the ocean by Marina DeBris – courtesy of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi