‘Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi’, world’s largest free outdoor sculpture exhibition, attracts upto half a million people

Celebrating 25 years 'Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi' has exhibited 2,691 sculptures by 1,129 artists from 51 countries. 

Now celebrating 25 years, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi has been the world’s largest free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition for over two decades, exhibiting 2,691 sculptures by 1,129 artists from 51 countries. 

It is visited by up to half a million people each year. Most of Australia’s leading sculptors of the last 30 years have exhibited numerous times including May Barrie, Bert Flugelman AM, Inge King AM, Stephen King, Michael Le Grand, Ron Robertson-Swann OAM, Michaelie Crawford & Julie Turpin, and Ken Unsworth AM. 

(Image: Sonia Sadiq Gandhi)

The exhibitions international profile has resulted in some of the biggest international names in sculpture exhibiting, including: Sir Anthony Caro, Phillip King CBE (England), Sui Jian Guo, Chen Wen Ling (China), Kozo Nishino (Japan), Fletcher Benton (USA) and David Černý (Czech Republic).

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Clovelly local John Petrie was announced as the recipient of the $100,000 Aqualand Sculpture Award for his gravity defying basalt artwork 23.5°. The Aqualand Sculpture Award is an acquisitive award recognised as one of the most sought-after art awards in the world. To mark the significant 25th exhibition milestone, long standing Principal Sponsor Aqualand increased the award’s value from $70,000 to $100,000 for 2023, making the award the second most generous sculpture award in the world.

Japanese artist Masayuki Sugiyama was awarded the Neil Balnaves AO 25th Anniversary Prize of $25,000 for his stainless steel work ‘Moving Stillness (2020/2023)’ and Greek artist Leda Alexopoulou was awarded the Waverley Council Mayor’s Award of $5,000 for her bronze sculpture ‘Keep Walking’.

Highlights of the 2023 exhibition included this year’s three $30,000 Helen Lempriere Scholarship recipients: Greg Johns (SA), Lucy Barker (NSW) and Siahne Rogers (WA).

(Image: Sonia Sadiq Gandhi)

Petrie is one of six artists in this year’s exhibition that also exhibited in the first Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi in 1997, including Paul Bacon, Stephen King, Michael Le Grand, James Rogers and Margarita Sampson.

They were joined by artists from 21 countries including every Australian State and Territory including renowned Australian sculptors Philip Spelman and R.M. Ron Gomboc who joined the Double Decade Club as they celebrated their 20th time in the exhibition and Lucy Barker and Ayako Saito who join the Decade Club.

Acclaimed Chinese artists Chen Wenling and Shen Lieyi exhibited alongside a dozen leading artists from Japan and, in continuing the support for Ukrainian artists, Nazar Bilyk exhibited at Bondi for the first time.

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Chen Wenling’s ‘The Top Of The Balance’ (Image: Charlotte Curd)

Snapchat and Melbourne artist Mond Qu brought an immersive new ‘ARt’ collaboration with ‘Chasing the Sun’, which used Snap’s leading augmented reality (AR) technology to create a ‘secret’ sculpture that visitors could unlock at Tamarama beach, for a fully immersive AR experience that tracked the arc of the sun as it moved through the sky.

Snapchat and Melbourne artist Mond Qu’s ‘Chasing the Sun’ (Image: Charlotte Curd)

Those who couldn’t make it to Sydney could also experience the magic of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi and ‘Chasing the Sun’, through a global Snapchat Augmented Reality (AR) lens, which could be used by anyone around the world.

Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi is supported by Principal Sponsor Aqualand, the Federal Government’s Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, Create NSW and donations from the people of Sydney.

This year the exhibition ran from 20th October to 6th November.

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