Seven Stellar Sculptures

The Strand Ephemera installation is complete, and we have our list of must-see sculptures. IMAGE: 'Your Altered Gaze Returned' - Vanessa Stanley

With the Strand Ephemera kicking off today, there’s no better time to head down to the esplanade and soak in all the beauty that our region has to offer – while appreciating some incredible sculptures by both visiting and local artists.

While the official Strand Ephemera winner will not be announced until this evening, we’ve hit the sand and found six sculptures that you will want to see for yourself. This list only includes pieces that have been created by the 2017 competitive artists, so does not include pieces such as Dancenorth’s Tectonic, Robbie Rowlands’ Light Falls and Caitlind r.c. Brown and Wayne Garrett’s Cloud – those are pieces we’ll save for you to see in person!

Here are our top seven:

7. This Heart Within Me Burns – Tanya Coventry with Bowen State High School

‘This Heart Within Me Burns’ – Tanya Coventry with Bowen State High School

Part of the appeal of this artwork is the confronting nature of it: all of the plastic and rubbish used to create the piece was found washed up on the beach, along with the driftwood used for the birds. We love the detail of the birds themselves, as well as the suspension of the plastic forming the centre of the artwork: it shows, in a beautiful and heartbreaking way, the concentration of plastic that can form inside marine birds, which never breaks down and can lead to them starving.

6. Making Waves – Alison McDonald

‘Making Waves’ – Alison McDonald

We were lucky enough to catch up with Alison during the creation of this piece, and learnt a lot about the work that went into it – so to see the enormity of the finished product is amazing! Roughly 12,000 SIM card packets are connected together, in a pattern that represents the layout of US cell phone towers – a comment on the noticeable presence of phones along the Strand, while also mimicking the waves behind the sculpture. Photos do not do Alison’s piece justice – it’s one that you have to see up-close!

5. The Crab – Joy Heylen 

‘The Crab’ – Joy Heylen

We visited Joy during the install of this piece, and have already seen the corten steel’s colours change a lot over just the past few days. The specific type of steel used to create The Crab‘s outer shell is one that, as it rusts, builds up layers – so being situated in a marine environment means the sculpture will change colour almost daily!

4. Strangers In The Wind – Tom Emmett

‘Strangers In The Wind’ – Tom Emmett

Everything from the shadows the sculpture creates to its interaction and harmony with the environment around it really won us over: Tom is a surfer from Brisbane, and has created these pieces using the same material as surfboards to celebrate beach culture, and pay homage to the region he is exhibiting in.

3. Sand Ephemera – Jane Hawkins, Rhonda Payne & Sally Munns

‘Sand Ephemera’ – Jane Hawkins, Rhonda Payne & Sally Munns

While there are no set criteria for Ephemera sculptures, we love how many this year celebrate the beach they are featured on. This piece is the ultimate definition of something ephemeral too, enlarging the balls found on the beach at low tide as crabs busily clean out their homes.

2. Your Altered Gaze Returned – Vanessa Stanley

‘Your Altered Gaze Returned’ – Vanessa Stanley

Vanessa Stanley is based on the Gold Coast, so would know exactly how to hero the beaches that surround her artwork – and this piece does that incredibly well. The collection of curved mirrors draw in and abstract the beauty of the world around them, and introduce an aspect of childhood frivolity to those that stand in front of it.

1. Lantis – Robert Crispe

‘Lantis’ – Robert Crispe

When we first spoke to Robert about his artwork, we knew this piece would be one to look out for – but seeing it in place, playing with its surroundings and sending out its own playful reflections, we fell even more in love. Lantis breathes in two very different ways: by day, the mirrors reflect the nature around them; then by night, projections produce kaleidoscopic masterpieces bounced off the reflective structure. Another aspect we fell in love with was Lantis‘ remoteness: it is nestled into the corner of the beach, out of plain sight, so is even more of a surprise when you uncover it.

This list was compiled by a 20-something year old who is in no way a professional art critic. These are subjective opinions that he has made, and he apologises profusely to those that could not fit into the perfectly-alliterated number of this article’s title. 

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  • Thank you for the top 7 picks. I am a great Ephemera fan and have been since its inception. I have seen this years works almost every day. I really like almost ALL the work. It is a pity that Robert Crispe’s work was not more visible under the projection light at night, it was quite hard to see. I do not have a favourite but would definitely include the Ghost Net sails in my top eight.

    I was however disappointed with this years exhibition. There was a lot of empty space and there was only one work south of the fountain. In previous years there was work all the way down to the foot bridge. Remember the wonderful tree yarn bombing last time and the owls in the trees. Lots more too. I really missed all the small scale, clever, quirky, ephemeral art, mostly by local artists that was present in previous years. This was the core of the Ephemera to me, not the big “industrial” pieces that have come to dominate the show this year. As good as that work may be it must be extremely expensive to show and that may be at the expense of all the smaller works. I don’t really know. I am sure the BIG stuff is popular with the general public but do we need so much? I am not alone with this view, many people have noticed this and also miss the small works of art. I loved its fragile nature even if it was blown away in strong wind, that was the real ephemeral spirit at work. Much of the work this great would need a large crane to shift. I also find the high level of security unfortunate.

    Next time can the exhibition shift back to the original core and the intent of Ephemera…please. It was more fun and there was more to see.

    My magic moment was a young woman improvising some jazz at sunset one evening on the pink piano..

    • Thanks so much for the reply, Robin. I always have a soft spot for Ephemera pieces that incorporate mirrors to reflect the beauty of the esplanade around them. In the office, we were commenting that there seemed to be concentrations of artwork in particular spots as well – was very scarce around Tobruk this year!

      I had two magic moments this year: the first was an elderly couple who were finishing their art trek as I was beginning mine at the Rock Pool – they had loved all of the pieces along the Strand, and so were commenting on the beauty and art behind everything – including a browning palm frond beside the footpath. The second were two ladies out for their morning jog, who had become sidetracked by the art and were commenting how disappointed they were they couldn’t find Lantis – so were over the moon when I pointed them in the right direction.

      I do agree that some pieces are becoming a lot more ‘industrial’, but am incredibly glad that the reputation of the Ephemera is growing in such a way that more national and international artists are being featured and it is recognised on the same level as similar events in Bondi and Perth. It’s definitely important that we maintain the local aspect though, and I think there’s no doubt that will continue with incredible seasoned artists such as Sue Tilley and Alison McDonald, as well as up-and-comers like Robert Crispe. Sue’s in particular this year celebrated the ephemerality of the event which I loved – tape definitely isn’t designed to withstand the elements on its own!

      Loved your comment and the passion for the arts you clearly have!

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