The Association congratulates its president, John Wooller, on being announced at the opening of 'Sculpture among the Tulips' on Sunday, 21 September as the inaugural winner of the $5,000 acquisitive Tesselaar Sculpture Prize. The judge, respected Australian sculptor Ernst Fries, also acknowledged the sculptures of Dean Bowen and ASV member Chris Vassallo as joint runners-up in the Prize. Ernst Fries agreed to his judging deliberations being published in this edition of the newsletter for your interest. 'Sculpture among the Tulips' has proven to be a huge success with the general viewing public who have flocked to the Tesselaar Tulip Festival in the Dandenongs in their many thousands. The People's Choice Award is also very popular among visitors with an enormous number of votes already lodged. There is no doubt that the Tesselaar Sculpture Prize has introduced a new and diverse audience to the world of three dimensional art, and this event is sure to be an annual fixture on the arts calendar. Congratulations to all the exhibiting finalists and to Tesselaar for sponsoring this unique sculpture competition and exhibition. The exhibition of sculptures by 15 ASV members and nine other highly regarded Australian and international sculptors is worth viewing, with the sculptures on display in the unique and colourful landscape setting of abundant blooming tulips. Both the exhibition and Tulip Festival close on Wednesday, 8 October.
A great variety of works are on display in the Tesselaar Sculpture Prize, which really demonstrate the enthusiastic and creative approach by artists to create for an environmental outdoor setting. The Prize is an acquisitive one and the winning sculpture will be permanently displayed in a suitable setting within the gardens of Tesselaar and accessible to the public. Those facts are a very important force in formulating an opinion about the best and most deserving work in this competition. There are some delightful and sensitive works that address the natural environment, but would be more suitable in a more intimate setting. For example, Maria Coyle’s sculpture Friends is a very interesting and lovable work. It has a nice balance overall and the two figures communicate the feeling of a first encounter, a beginning of a friendship, a desire to come closer in body and spirit. The Water Lilies by Anna Meszaros are a delicate and aesthetic work, but the setting and the reason for it given in the artist’s statement do not work at all. If placed in a pond or on a reflective hard surface it would be a wonderful meditative work. Dean Bowen’s Boy with House and Tree is a wonderful work. It is approachable and witty, full of energy and mysteries. I would have liked to see a larger version of it, which would make a wonderful public sculpture. Craftsmanship is an important part of producing sculpture. Some material and even some forms of expression require a deep understanding of the limitations and its achievable possibilities. But sometimes the demonstration of skills takes over and becomes more important than the artistic expression. Figura by Faustas Sadauskas is one of those works in which exquisite craftsmanship is celebrated above artistic expression. Rudi Jass’s Memory of Water also alludes to similar ambitions, but the welding of stainless steel onto cor-ten steel does not enhance the work at all. There are other interesting and challenging works like Penthouse with a View by Robert Waghorn and Frank Barresi’s Bench Bitch. I wonder whether Robert’s Penthouse with a View is a parody of council planning? Houses being built in a scrambled manner on a council rubbish bin might suggest something of that nature. The Bench Bitch vaguely resembles a dog and is constructed out of left-over steel machine parts. Frank has indeed made a bitch of a seat. Other sculptures like Family Tree, Eggular, The Music of Unheard Souls and Halcyon Intercept are very interesting and worthwhile to look at closely. Grant Finck’s Halcyon Intercept with its entwined soft forms heralds the perfect harmony, which we all desire. The Music of Unheard Souls by Mark Cowie is a harmonious work. The curved interaction with other elements of the work, the elegant gracious composition of straight lines and curves and the inherent three-dimensional quality of it makes it very rewarding in experience and gives plenty of visual enrichment. To be fully appreciated Eggular by Chris Vassallo has to be looked at from all sides. The interaction of the different surfaces produces very interesting vistas and indicates the intention of the artist very clearly. John Wooller’s Family Tree is also a very successful statement. I was taken by its rugged harmony and the use of two different sections of material to express the essence of reproduction. The work shows the love of a family, its growth from its beginning, its dependence on each other and the strength inherent in the recognition of belonging. This strength is not weakened by individual expression and developments. Looked at as a whole it gives a handsome rugged Impression. There could be more said about other sculptures. This is a juried competition and Maudie Palmer of TarraWarra Museum of Art does not select unworthy work. Everyone exhibited must be congratulated on being shown on this occasion. I have chosen two runners-up to the acquisitive award, which are Eggular by Chris Vassallo and Boy with House and Tree by Dean Bowen. The winner of the Inaugural Tesselaar Sculpture Prize is Family Tree by John Wooller.