In recent years, the somewhat overlooked medium of sculpture has reappeared on collectors’ radars. For many years the acquisition of sculpture was the domain of but a few – mainly those passionate and dedicated to the three dimensional form and perhaps others who sought to experience sculpture in an outdoor context.
Sculpture has of late enjoyed a raised profile further enhanced by a number of factors so what are the reasons for the reawakening? Firstly, sculpture has begun to migrate from the comfortable environs of the art gallery space into other realms where the public more readily encounter it; nowadays sculptures by contemporary artists are more likely to be commissioned over monuments dedicated to public figures. The twelve engaging contemporary sculptures that flank the Eastern Freeway by artists including Callum Morton [Hotel] and Emily Floyd [Public Art Strategy aka as Bird and Worm] are just a couple of examples that come to mind. And who could ignore the proliferation of sculpture in the Docklands precinct launched by Bruce Armstrong’s Bunjil [ Eagle], imbued with such a commanding presence?
Very “open” public events have also been instrumental in this sculpture resurgence. Large, appreciative crowds are drawn to the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in both Sydney and Perth and the Lorne Sculpture Biennale in Victoria . Each event has grown exponentially and has become embedded as a much loved cultural event which in turn has translated into appreciable demand in the primary (or private) market for sculpture. Furthermore, firm and steady institutional support is provided with the presence in Victoria of Heide Museum of Modern Art and it’s 30 plus strong collection of outdoor sculpture which began in 1981. McClelland Sculpture Park & Gallery possesses an even larger permanent collection of 100 sculptures and highlights the medium with its bi-annual Survey and Awards.
In addition to the cultural and public embrace of sculpture, is the developing awareness that the discipline provides great scope with bronze, glass, stone and also aluminium works adaptable to both indoor and outdoor environments. In fact, sculpture offers a wide spectrum of material in which its form can be expressed; from plastic to wood to fibre and so on. In the move away from homes decorated with brown furniture to those filled with modern design, people are realising how well sculpture harmonises and compliments this new domestic style and have become more open to the concept. Additionally the sophisticated collector also recognises how affordable sculpture is in the secondary market, though, beware, it will not remain this way forever!
Sophie Ullin, Head of Art
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