Bringing art to the people: Sculpture by the Sea in Perth

You know I love Perth beaches, but I tend to avoid the busier beaches like Cottesloe Beach except for this particular time of year – because the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibit opened this week, and I never miss it. I love to see the sculptures, because they’re always so varied, but more than that, I simply love the fact that these kind of exhibitions exist …

Bringing art to the beach in Perth, Western Australia

Why art on the beach is perfect

Some people are fanatical cultural travellers; others prefer to see the main sights or eat some local foods or go bungee jumping. There are all kinds of travellers and that’s the way it should be, but I think sometimes you can just keep travelling in a certain way because you don’t try anything new, and it’s good sometimes to be forced into another way of thinking sometimes. Being thrown suddenly into an adventure itinerary on the Ningaloo Reef last year certainly has made me realise I could stretch myself to be more adventurous sometimes.

All of this preamble to say: some people never go to art galleries. (I used to be a fairly reluctant art-gallery-goer too, so I get it.) But what if you just put the art where they’re going anyway? What if that makes them look at it and consider it? At the very least, they’ll decide which pieces they like and which they don’t. This is good, right?

Sculptures on the jetty overlooking Cottesloe Beach in Perth Western Australia

This is one of a set of sculptures on the jetty; looking back towards Cottesloe Beach

At Sculptures by the Sea in Cottesloe, and similar events around the world, the art is basically forced onto people. Yesterday, at first, I was annoyed that when I was trying to photograph the sculptures, there were people there laying out towels to sunbathe or sitting on the sand with their kids or just walking past with towels around them after having a swim. After a while I realised that mixing beach-going with art-watching is basically genius.

Big Boy sculpture at Cottesloe Beach in Perth Western Australia

The “Big Boy” sculpture at Cottesloe in March 2017

It was a school day when I went, and there were lots of school groups there of all ages, being shown around the sculptures by guides, parents and teachers. Being a bit of a nosey parker, I listened in on lots of these groups and loved what I heard. I watched a boy aged about nine go right up to the artist of one of the sculptures he liked best and ask him lots of great questions about how he’d made it and why. This is hands-on art at its best and when that boy (and probably his classmates too) start to travel the world in a decade or so they’ll have their eyes open to finding out about local art, too.

Tears of Joy at Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe Western Australia 2017

“Tears of Joy” sculpture at Cottesloe Beach

In Perth in March? Get to Sculpture by the Sea!

If you’re visiting Perth in March then definitely make a date with Sculpture by the Sea. Cottesloe Beach is an iconic part of Perth that lots of tourists visit in any case, but what better way to enjoy it than when it’s covered in sculptures. In 2017, the exhibition runs from 3-20 March and it’s always held around this time each year. You can reach Cottesloe pretty easily by train and a short walk and there are heaps of cafes and bars around for a meal or drink too.

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