We cooperate as an association to advance the practice of sculpture and the reputation and appreciation of sculpture and sculptors in the community. This is regardless of whether or not we make a living from sculpture and regardless of our preferred style or medium. To this end we support artists’ moral rights, we advocate a professional attitude to the production and presentation of work and encourage the artistic and intellectual stimulation of interaction amongst artists of all persuasions.

The March Meeting

Bayside Sculpture Gallery

On the 14th March the ASV monthly meeting was held at Bayside Sculpture, courtesy of sculptor and owner Gael O’Leary, and well attended by 23 members, thanks to the good work of Gillian Govan the President.

A feeling of excitement and uncompromising creativity is generated as soon as you enter Bayside Sculpture. The first thing to greet you is a beautifully presented gallery of sculpture, showcasing the considerable talents of not only Gael O’Leary, her associate sculptor Anna Robertson and resident sculptor Mellissa Cussel, but their students' works, presented in a wide variety of different forms and media.
Inspecting the stone working area

The high standard of these works are a fitting tribute to the effectiveness of Gael’s ability to nurture and develop the creative spark in each student. Originally set up to provide opportunities for women sculptors to develop their artistic abilities, there are at present 36 women and 4 men.
In Gael’s words “at Bayside Sculpture we commit ourselves to affirm and nurture the innate creativity in each person. We seek to do this through the medium of sculpture and related art forms. We welcome people of all backgrounds and honour the unique creative expressions of each individual by providing a friendly, secure environment where self expression is encouraged and artistic development furthered. We promote new ways of exploring the visual arts, particularly sculpture, and innovative art practices”.
One of the workshops

Bayside Sculpture has undergone an evolution in its journey to its current premises in Advantage Rd, Highett. In 1996 the Mercy Art and Creativity Centre was established in Black Rock as a Ministry of the Sisters of Mercy New Zealand and the Melbourne Sisters of Mercy under the directorship of Gael, a New Zealand born sculptor, and Margaret Broadbent, a Melbourne painter. Both sculpture and painting courses were offered. That closed in 2004 and Mercy Sculpture Centre came into being under Gael’s directorship in the Advantage Road premises in 2005. In 2009 Gael took over the business in her own right. While her personal preference is for quirky thematic works, over the past 25 years Gael has undertaken a number of large bronze commissions, many with a religious flavour, for schools, hospitals and other institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United States. A good example is a major bronze commission for the Sisters of Mercy, Grafton NSW, a major part of which is a series of 16 bronze bas-relief panels, each 72 x 90 cm, depicting their foundation, history and ministry. 10 have already been cast with 6 remaining. Members were able to see two of the remaining 6 in the course of creation, mounted on easels, and the skilful way Gael creates the images in fine clay. When this is complete associate sculptor and assistant Anna Robertson takes a silicone rubber mould.
Gael's work in progress

This mould is taken to Bill Perrin’s Sculpture Foundry in Cheltenham where he takes a wax impression from the mould and returns it to Gael for reworking and a final clean up. The piece is then cast at the foundry using the lost wax method, the final piece being the result of a powerful working relationship between artist and craftsman developed over the past 18 years.
Gael gave generously of her time, giving members a tour of the Studio and answering many questions, which was greatly appreciated.

Bayside Sculpture is fitted out with a teaching space, three studios, a soundproof grinding and welding area, carving and casting space and a wax room. Bayside Sculpture Gallery (formerly Gallery Koru) is also on the premises, and is used for the periodical display of student and staff work. The gallery is also available for public use as an exhibition space.

Bayside Sculpture is at 16B Advantage Road, Highett. 3190 Melways Ref: 77 B10. Tel 9553 0661
Report by Gordon Robertson

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