Sculpture at Scenic World has opened the call for submissions for its 2017 exhibition. It is the most important prize in Australia for an outdoor artwork that in the 2016 edition has been increased up to 20,000 AUD. Located 100 kms from Sydney, the idyllic village of Katoomba is the main destination for all who want to admire the breathtaking views of the rock formation called The Three Sisters in the heart of the Blue Mountains National Park. Scenic World, one of the oldest tourism business in New South Wales, is owned by the Hammon Family – now in their third generation, and siblings Anthea and David have brought fresh air to the company; in the last few years they have been committed to providing a extensive experience to the visitor and, at the same time, contributing to the already vibrant art scene of Katoomba. That’s why five years ago they launched the first exhibition with 26 sculptures and installations in the area of a lush rainforest.
The territory that occupies Scenic World in the present was a coal mine since the 1880s where also originate a small village. Bought by the Hammon family in 1945, it became a leisure destination for locals and the end of the mining activity permitted the vegetation grow back in a way that nowadays it is almost indistinguishable from the UNESCO world heritage area that entourages it -the national park-. In addition, the remnants of the mining structures constitute industrial archaeology that cannot be disregarded. In these circumstances it is not hard to imagine that all submissions will not do the exhibition. Actually, artists are challenged to submit an artist impression of a site-specific artwork that doesn’t leave perennial marks on the environment, neither interferes with the local wildlife, nor modifies the landscape. In addition, the difficult access to the rainforest, via a steep railway that descends from the top of the cliff to the Jamison Valley -or the alternative 1000 steps-, conditions at a great deal the physical characteristics of the sculptures and installations.
But it is not only the artists who have a challenge. The jury, formed by major names in the art scene of Sydney and the Blue Mountains, have the demanding task of selecting the works that bring together artistic quality and feasibility in the installation plans. It’s not easy to curate, states Justin Morrissey, exhibition manager since 2015 and with a sound experience in delivering outdoors art projects. He discusses the submission with every candidate so that they can understand the particular conditions of this exhibition space, and is deeply involved in procure them an extensive installation support. Notwithstanding, the uniqueness of the setting means a great opportunity to artists to test their potential to accomplish the particular conditions of exhibiting. It would be expected that in future years the exhibition grew in creativity with cutting-edge submissions that make this event a reference questioning the role of contemporary art in natural settings and suggesting new outcomes. This year, for example, there has been the first sound installation.
Parallel to the exhibition that takes place every Autumn, between April and May, Sculpture at Scenic World also offers a complete education program that includes workshops for school groups and for children during the weekends. In addition, this year it offered a community program for school teachers, with talks of artists and involving the Blue Mountains Art Centre that hosts an indoors exhibition. Also, new this year has been the public exhibition “Rock On”, consisting on stone sculptures displayed in different points of the Blue Mountains.
Worldwide applications for the 2017 exhibition open this September until November 2016. You can read the conditions in the website of Sculpture at Scenic World. In addition to the prizes, Scenic World offers a flat rate artist fee, and selected foreign and interstate candidates will receive a freight subsidy and accommodation.