Western Australian and international artists share in major awards at opening of Sculpture By The Sea, Cottesloe

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, the annual outdoor sculpture exhibition, returns today for an 18th year to transform the famous white sands of Cottesloe Beach, with Japanese artists Osamu and Masako Ohnishi awarded the major Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe Artist Award of $30,000 for their work ‘USAGI Shelter’, an inviting, interactive work in the shape of a rabbit’s head. 

Newcomers to Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, Western Australian-born artists Stephanie De Biasi and Carolina Arsenii were awarded the prestigious $15,000 Western Australian Sculptor Scholarship for ‘Fossil’, a woven, pod-like structure made from recycled cat food cans that highlight the immense waste produced from everyday packaging. 

Hailing from Kyoto, Japan, the Ohnishis have exhibited works as a pair since 2007, including Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi and Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2019, Asago Art Competition, Historic Street ART Festival in Tamba Sasayama, the 32nd National Cultural Festival Nara, Kobe Biennale and Echigi-Tsumaari Art Triennale Daichi-no-Matsuri. 

Osamu and Masako Ohnishi said, “We are surprised, delighted and amazed by this award. Our artwork is in Australia, far away from Japan. Just to have it exhibited at Cottesloe beach is an amazing thing. And if our artwork on the beach brings smiles to the faces of the people who see it, then we are happy. We think it is important that the world is full of smiles. Thank you very much for this wonderful award!” 

The Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe Artist Award of $30,000 donated by the Minderoo Foundation aims to increase opportunities for artists, is judged on excellence and is open to all artworks in the exhibition. 

Minderoo Foundation CEO Andrew Hagger said, “Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe offers our community the unique opportunity to experience world-class art on one of our favourite beaches. Artists need sustainable career opportunities, so Minderoo Foundation is proud to be able to support Sculpture by the Sea with the Cottesloe Artist Prize. We extend our heartfelt congratulations to Osamu and Masako Ohnishi for their captivating work, ‘USAGI Shelter’.” 

Presented by the Hon Roger Cook MLA, Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, and kindly donated by Ian Hicks AO and Susie Grant, the WA Sculptor Scholarship is this year increased to $15,000 from the previous $10,000 awarded from 2013-2021. The scholarship provides invaluable support for the advancement of the artist’s career, including the opportunity to travel and study their craft. 

Arsenii has exhibited widely in both Western Australia and Victoria, including Emergency Responses at RMIT First Site Gallery, Melbourne in 2019 and Lost and Found at City Arts Space, Perth, 2017. She received grants from the City of Melbourne in 2020 and 2021, and a design commission from Perth Airport in 2018. 

De Biasi has exhibited sculptural works widely throughout Western Australia. In 2018, she graduated with a Bachelor of Contemporary Art at Edith Cowan University where she selected for the 2018 Sculpture by the Sea Artist Mentorship. She was one of three WA artists selected to exhibit in the 2019 National Graduate show, HATCHED, at Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. 

Carolina Arsenii and Stephanie De Biasi said, “We are honoured to receive this award, who would have thought our decision to use recycled cat food cans could lead to such a significant project. Thanks to Sculpture by the Sea for making this exhibition possible, to Ian Hicks and Susie Grant for their generous sponsorship of this award, and to our technician. We are excited about how the award can support our practices and already have many ideas for future works. We are thrilled to continue our collaborative relationship and to continuing to use recycled materials in the future.” 

Ian Hicks AO and Susie Grant said, “Congratulations to Stephanie and Carolina for receiving the $15,000 WA Sculptor Scholarship. This award is designed to assist leading WA emerging to mid-career artists to reach the next stage of their career. It’s a hard road building a career as an artist. We hope the pair really benefits from this scholarship and that we might see them exhibiting on Cottesloe beach again in the coming years.” 

Sculpture by the Sea Founding CEO & Artistic Director David Handley AM said, “It is very exciting to be back at Cottesloe to present the exhibition for the people of Perth and its visitors. Already artists have flown in from NSW and Victoria, while some with family connections have flown in from New York and Korea. Congratulations and thank you to the artists for hanging in there to create their works during these uncertain times. There is a real buzz about town, on the beach and with the journalists we speak to that the exhibition has been able to proceed.” 

The major award recipients were selected by this year’s Judging Panel: Jennifer Cochrane, artist and 2021 recipient of the Bendat Family Foundation WA Invited Artist program; Dr Nien Schwarz, Artist & Honorary Senior Lecturer, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University; and Professor Ted Snell AM CitWA, Honorary Professor, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University. 

Perth based Collective VOXLAB, led by founding director Jon Denaro, was announced as the recipient of the Andrea Stretton Memorial Invitation to exhibit in Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi later this year with $5,000 towards the costs of exhibiting. VOXLAB is exhibiting the striking infinity-shaped artwork, ‘Prickle’, made from upcycled car panels. This year Jon Denaro joins the Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe Decade Club for artists who have exhibited ten times. 

Alongside 15 interstate and 24 international artworks, 32 WA artists will showcase works this year – including the three $10,000 Bendat Family Foundation WA Invited Artists Program recipients, Norton Flavel, Fiona Gavino and Richie Kuhaupt. 

Celebrating its 18th year, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe is one of Perth’s largest free-to-the-public events, attracting an estimated 200,000 visitors to explore the artworks. An extensive COVID Event Plan will be in place. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore the sculptures in greater detail and discover exhibition extras by downloading the new Sculpture by the Sea App from the App Store or Google Play. 

Seventy artists from 13 countries are set to showcase their artwork across the 18-day exhibition including sculptors from Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Norway, Mexico, India and France. Thirty-two works from Western Australian artists will showcase the State’s wealth of artistic talent, accompanied by interstate artists from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT. 

The exhibition marks the 50th Sculpture by the Sea exhibition held around the world, including 23 Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi exhibitions from 1997-2021; 18 Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe exhibitions from 2005-2021; four Sculpture by the Sea, Aarhus exhibitions in Denmark in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015; and five Olympic Arts Festival exhibitions in 1998 in Albany (WA), Bondi (NSW), Darwin (NT), Noosa (Qld) and Tasman Peninsula (TAS), with the Tasmanian exhibition staged again in 2001. 

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe runs from today until March 21. 

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