The opening night of Sculpture Bermagui was well attended by artists, buyers, community members, and volunteers on Friday, March 4.
Sculpture Bermagui publicist Olga Neilsen said there had already been really great sales, wonderful feedback, and significant attendance despite the less than favourable weather over the weekend.
"We're so glad that we're in the surf club alongside the foreshore and the headland this year so the exhibition is accessible to everybody," she said.
Ms Neilsen said there were also a significant number of female artists in the exhibition, which was something to be celebrated given March 8 was International Women's Day.
The Welcome to Country was delivered by Djiringanj man of the Yuin Nation Warren Ngarrae Foster and was well received by all those who attended the event.
"It was absolutely fantastic, we had a very positive response from the audience about how welcoming he was, and how open he was, and how it started off the exhibition really strongly," she said.
Major sponsor of the event Bermagui Beach Hotel gave out a significant prize of $8000 to Central Coast artist John Fitzmaurice for his piece titled Twist and Pop.
"It's a stunning sculpture and it's not an acquisitive award so that just means that the money for the award goes to the sculptor to use for his art practice and he is still able to sell the sculpture," said Ms Neilsen.
Mr Fitzmaurice said he had long been inspired by the shape of a corkscrew in his artwork, and he really loved circular and twisted shapes that are often a feature of his work.
He started with a sketch and a model of cardboard. He then worked by cutting out the stainless steel using an angle grinder, and then tacked the piece together with a welder and then a stick welder, before about another ten steps of grinding and polishing.
"I was really pleased with the position of the sculpture against the Bermagui landscape and we were told it would have the mountain in the background, although it was rainy and cloudy when we set it up I know what it should look like" he said.
Unfortunately Mr Fitzmaurice could not attend the event on Friday evening, but said he felt honoured and would thank the Bermagui Beach Hotel in person next week.
He said the past two years with COVID had been difficult as an artist with many shows cancelled. He was also unable to keep his workshop, so the prize money would help him create new works and also pay for the transportation and travel costs in Bermagui.
Sculpture Bermagui also handed out an award with $5000 prize money to North East Victorian sculptor Sam Anderson for his piece titled Bwindi.
"It went to Sam Anderson's gorilla piece and we're very, very thrilled about that as well because he's just trying to draw people's attention to protecting the habitat of these endangered animals.
"It's a prize that was really supporting his environmental message," said Ms Neilsen.
The other winners announced on the night were:
The Sculpture Bermagui exhibition is on between March 5 and 14.
"Please come and enjoy the exhibition, there are three guided tours available everyday and if you have any questions we've got so many volunteers on site to have conversations about the art and about Bermagui," said Ms Neilsen.
Guided tours run every day from 10.30am from the Headland Marquee and an additional weekend guided tour will start from 2.30pm from the Surf Club.
The closing ceremony will be held on Monday, March 14, at the Bermagui Country Club at 1pm and there will be three artists talking about their practice.
The People's Choice award, both indoor and outdoor, will also be presented, supported by Bega Cheese and the Bermagui Country Club.
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