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Integrate art into everyday life

SCULPTURE by the Sea started in Sydney 12 years ago. It was originally a one-day event at Bondi, created as part of the Olympic Arts Festival. Looking back, it probably would never have happened if Sydney did not win the Olympics. That elevated thinking in Sydney, making it more creative and bold. The Bondi event has become a fixture in Sydney’s arts and social scene, prompting many visitors from Western Australia to ask: wouldn’t it be great if something like that could happen in Perth. Four years ago the concept was brought to Perth and it became an instant hit. Last year it attracted 100,000 visitors and it is likely that a similar number will visit this year. Cottesloe Beach was swarming with people last weekend, enjoying the stunning art works in one of Perth’s iconic settings. The event seems to work so well because it builds on something that makes Perth a great place to live – warm autumn weather on the coast. The art isn’t hidden away inside a gallery, nor is it placed in a manufactured setting like the sterile ‘cultural centre’ in Northbridge. Instead it is taken to the people, and presented in a setting where people can enjoy the sculptures in their own time and in their own way. The presence of many beachgoers who apparently have little interest in the art – maybe they have already checked it out – adds to the appeal. It means the art is part of a living, breathing city. The popularity of Cottesloe beach should send a message to planners who try to contrive European concepts like piazzas in Northbridge. They don’t work and won’t work unless we have big changes in licencing laws and our drinking culture.

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