Sculptors make some of the loudest and boldest statements in the world of fine art. Their skills, both delicate and Herculean, garner the respect of creative peers, while a finished artwork captivates all demographics.
Contemporary sculpture, however, is a niche market subject to spasmodic sales. Artists have to be adaptable to maintain a livelihood. They also need to be analytical about projects that seem to defy logistics.
Consider the brief selectively handed out for the Art in the Vines - Sculpture in Motion event at Hanging Rock Winery. Curator Malcolm Thomson could have kept the same criteria used in 2018 for the inaugural and resoundingly successful Art in the Vines. Instead, he envisaged a twist, and has achieved 15 of them.
This year every sculpture is kinetic. It either moves or has an illusion of movement. And the motion is integral to every exhibit’s effect for the event’s four-month duration.
As if this wasn’t enough to put the 15 invited Victorians into a giddy spin, Thomson tried to shove them further out of their semi-comfort zone by having them elevate their artwork on three-metre-high poles. Their responses altered his expectations though and the poles became optional.
“I believe that Sculpture in Motion gives them the opportunity to look at their work in a new way and to
continue the process of developing their work,” says Thomson.
For the viewer, it offers a unique representation of sculpture in a group exhibition that is new to Australia, highlighting how the use of wind and mechanics can put Art into a different dimension.
Thomson has assembled an exceptional calibre of artists including Rudi Jass, a kinetic sculpture specialist regarded in Australia as the best in the business. Anton Hasell, creator of the Federation Bells at Birrarung Marr, and James Parrett, winner of Bondi’s Sculpture by the Sea major prize in 2018, are also participating.
Jass combines his passion for beautiful design with technical engineering. It was his work at the first Hanging Rock exhibition that planted the seed for Sculpture in Motion. In 2019, he is the only participant with experience in kinetics.
“The majority of my kinetic sculptures are wind-driven and react to the ever-changing wind and light conditions created in the environment. The reflective qualities of the stainless steel add to the constant visual dance between nature and the sculpture.”
Jass says the calm and soothing movement of the sculptures may evoke a serene and dreamlike state of mind. It is an intriguing notion that manifests when one wanders among the bobbing, twirling and swaying exhibits. The scene is all the more mesmerising considering the various configurations of steel, bronze and other materials that form the works ranging from 30 to 120 kilograms.
Gisborne-based artist Anthony Vanderzweep spent nearly three months making three wing-shaped sculptures that took almost three hours to install on the lawn fronting the cellar door. He used copper and brass with a green patina for his Wing It trio. The wings each spin on a stand made from copper pipe and fittings.
Thomson, who has worked with artists for 30 years, is particularly fascinated by sculptors.
“They are the forward scouts of a society that, more and more, has turned to computers and technology that bypasses the actual making of objects. They stubbornly maintain skills that have been developed from earliest times. Our streets and landscapes are the sculptor’s playground.”
Art in the Vines – Sculpture in Motion runs from now until February 23. Admission is free. Sculptures on exhibition are available for purchase, enquire directly with Hanging Rock Winery. hangingrock.com.au/art-in-the-vines
Nadine Hartnett is a freelance writer and the founding manager of the Macedon Ranges Art Trail.
Photo: Art in the Vines. Sculpture - ‘Circles’ by Rudi Jass