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Sculpture Bermagui: Under new management

Sculpture Bermagui: Under new management

3 March to 13 March, Bermagui

What better setting than a rainy South Coast day to go for a bit of culture. On Saturday, we went to Bermagui to Sculptures on the Edge, which has been running for ten or eleven years, to find that it has been renamed to the more contemporary Sculpture Bermagui. It is fashionable now, of course, to place the qualifier after the noun. The former Sculptures on the Edge, the renaming tells us, is Under New Management. The president of the first Sculpture Bermagui is Paul Payten. I caught up with Paul in Bermagui, where the rain was mercifully holding off from dampening what is a very engaging and well arranged exhibition of sculpture.

Above: Paul Payten: President, Sculpture Bermagui

Somewhat disarmingly the self-effacing Payten said “I don’t know much about sculpture. This is the first sculpture event I’ve been involved in.” Payten has a background in film festivals and marketing but has not let that stand in the way of taking over the reins from the former Sculptures on the Edge, melding together a new committee and bringing an important sculptural exhibition concept to the region. Payten appreciates that Sculptures on the Edge was created for locals and he acknowledges the role of Jan Ireland in its achievements over the last decade. Sculpture Bermagui builds on that foundation by participating with a widening base of artists, both local and not-so-local.

The exhibition opened on Friday last, 3 March, and runs until Monday 13 March. There are two venues as in previous years, at the Community Centre and The Headland. The Bermagui Community Centre houses a number of smaller works from local artists such as Daniel Lafferty whose “Boulder by Fire” is particularly striking, and from farther afield Jimmy Rix and Amanda Harrison. There are some good investments to be made here and we were disappointed, but not surprised, that Amanda Harrison’s “Enchante” had already been snapped up when we arrived. The larger pieces are to be found on the Dickinson Point headland where there are some particularly striking exhibits. My pick of the show was Shannon Hobbs’ “Wesley the Whale”. I can see it in place at home as I write. Unfortunately we blew the annual art budget in Bowral recently with the purchase of a Gillie and Marc bronze so we were not in the market.

Payten has some ambitious visions for developing Sculpture Bermagui to embrace other art forms in collaboration with sculpture. The program this year includes conversation with the artists, a performance by the Japanese drumming group Stoneware Taiko and fireworks on Saturday 11 March. On Sunday 12 March highly acclaimed The String Contingent will play an original composition interpreting sculptures. No doubt given Payten’s background we will see film weaving its way into the event in future years. He and his newly formed committee are to be congratulated not only for putting on a lovely exhibition and program, but also for some brinkmanship and last-minute decision-making to ensure that it happened. Payten again: “Some people felt that, given the name change, the short lead time and some uncertainty amongst the artists and organisers, we would have been better not to attempt an event in 2017 but to defer to 2018.” I’m glad they went ahead with it. We need more risk-takers; I feel Payten is one of them. As the website says “it’s on again, for art’s sake.”

Go. Spend up. And spend up big. Trevor Moore.

Above: Thomas Westra Symbol of life

Sculpture Bermagui PROGRAM: Sunday 5th - Friday 10th Community Centre Exhibition open 10:00 am - 4.00 pm Headland Exhibition open all day Wednesday 8th 8pm Torchlight tours of the headland Friday 10th 8pm Starlight conversations with the artists Saturday 11th Community Centre Exhibition open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Headland Exhibition open all day 8:45 pm Stonewave Taiko performance 9:00 pm Fireworks Sunday 12th Community Centre Exhibition open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Headland Exhibition open all day Closing Ceremony 6:00 pm Headland, Picnic on the Point The String Contingent - original composition interpreting sculptures Prize & Award Presentations, Fire sculptures Monday 13th Community Centre Exhibition opens 10:00 am – 4:00 pm Headland Exhibition open all day The full program is at

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