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Student Sculptor wins a permanent sculpture for her school

Attention young sculptors and artists! If you win the Student Sculpture prize, you get a fabulous sculpture for your school.

That’s what happened last Friday when local sculptor Paul Dimmer presented a sculpture to the students of St Peter’s Anglican College because Year 9 student Shai Cuthbert’s sculpture “Wings” was judged Best Student Sculpture back in August.

Highly Commended and People’s Choice winner Maddie Jones was also on hand to receive the Paul Dimmer piece, now installed in a garden for all students to enjoy.

The Student Sculpture prize, generously sponsored by Rachael Sweeney and Jim Johns, was organised by the Sculpture for Clyde committee to encourage creativity in young people and give them a place to exhibit their work, as well as increase foot traffic through local shops.

This year 43 student sculptures were exhibited in 27 businesses in Batemans Bay’s CBD and visitors followed a map to view each piece in shopfront windows.

As the judge, Paul Dimmer was impressed with the ideas and concepts as well as the skill shown in many of the artworks submitted for the exhibition. On Friday he commended the students again and urged them to keep working.

“We’re so pleased so many of the students want to exhibit their work,” said organiser Frances Harmey. “And we’re truly grateful to the art teachers from the three local high schools who generously help students to make and submit their work.”

“Rachael Sweeney and Jim Johns, formerly of McDonalds Batemans Bay, approached the committee last year to sponsor the event which enabled us to give $1000 in prize money and just over $1000 to buy a permanent sculpture for the school.”

Last year Batemans Bay High School was the recipient of a Susan McAlister sculpture.

“Over the years we hope to build a sculpture collection spread throughout local schools which will be a source of inspiration for aspiring sculptors,” Ms Harmey said. “Who knows, one day they might win the $50,000 Acquisitive prize and take pride of place on the Batemans Bay foreshore.”

Above: St Peter’s Principal Darren McPartland, Visual Arts Teacher Chris Forsythe, Frances Harmey, Paul Dimmer, Shai Cuthbert and Maddie Jones with the new sculpture won for the school by Shai.

The wrapping up of the Student Sculpture exhibition with the presentation of a fabulous Paul Dimmer piece to students of St Peter’s Anglican College provides the opportunity to reflect on what has grown from the Sculpture for Clyde over the last three years.

It’s not widely understood that the impressive sculptures along the Clyde River – forming part of the Batemans bay Sculpture Walk - are the result of inspired thinking from both business and creative minds in our town – and that it’s an entirely voluntary and community endeavour.

We’re so chuffed that everyone who lives in, passes through or visits Batemans Bay for a longer time gets to view these wonderful artworks in an open air, free to all, all-hours sculpture gallery. It’s for that reason we’ve had a prepositional name change to Sculpture FOR Clyde.

And it all happened because a few people got together and said it should! More than a hundred volunteers and an average of six thousand visitors each year have helped it succeed.

We wanted to attract tourists to the area in the shoulder season, involve businesses in the creative arts, inspire an appreciation of sculpture and build a permanent sculpture walk on our spectacular Clyde River.

It is unique in Australia that a community raises funds from within its business sector to buy sculptures for a permanent, public outdoor gallery.

This sculpture gallery has been built from within the community itself and support for the event has exceeded our expectations. The fact that we have now gifted seven sculptures (we hope Council will again be able to support us financially by installing two new sculptures), worth more than $300,000 to Council to enhance our town, is testament to the creativity that exists amongst us. This creativity sits alongside our ability to pull off a great event and put on a world class show for our visitors.

Two high schools in the area now have permanent sculptures on display for the enjoyment of students because one artist in their midst has been judged to be outstanding. More than 100 budding sculptors have had their work exhibited in local businesses and appreciated throughout their town in the Student Sculpture Exhibition. Many more students will have the same opportunities in the future.

The generosity of Terry and Ginette Snow, who’ve shared their extraordinary sculpture garden at Willinga Park with us and welcomed thousands of us to their home, gave us a space when we logistically couldn’t afford to use the foreshore. This move was a disappointment to many, but Willinga Park thrilled thousands of visitors and the artists now choose to exhibit their work precisely because of the venue.

Not everyone loves every one of the sculptures we see on the Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk but don’t you just love it when people are arguing and bickering about art, rather than politics and the state of the economy? And don’t you just love that our now beloved octopus, “Buoyansea”, is a celebrity?

Batemans Bay is often described (by outsiders) as not having a soul. Actually, we have a very creative heart and soul. We didn’t have to prove it, but we have with Sculpture for Clyde and the many creative events that happen in our town.

Frances Harmey

Sculpture for Clyde Committee

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