Magazine article Sculpture

Off the Wall and into the Landscape: Outdoor Sculpture Collections on Australia's Mornington Peninsula

Magazine article Sculpture

Off the Wall and into the Landscape: Outdoor Sculpture Collections on Australia's Mornington Peninsula

Article excerpt

Some people collect matchboxes, others collect Barbie dolls; some collect cars, while others collect paintings. Still others, perhaps a smaller group, acquire sculpture. Relatively recently, acting quite independently, several people with country properties on the Mornington Peninsula-approximately an hour's drive from Melbourne-have established showcases for contemporary Australian sculpture. The Mornington landscape, with its gently rolling hills, bushland, green pastures, and vineyards, along with stunning glimpses of the ocean, creates a superbly varied and sympathetic location for the placement of sculpture. Currently there are five public and private sculpture parks, with another one under development, and each has its own distinctly individual character.

Very likely the McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, with its growing collection of contemporary Australian sculpture under the leadership of director Robert Lindsay, sparked this recent increase in private collections on the peninsula. McClelland, with its manicured lawns and extensive area of Australian bush, shows more than 100 significant large-scale works on the grounds. It also hosts the prestigious bi-annual McClelland Sculpture Survey and Award, which attracts great interest and large crowds. The 2014 award went to Matthew Harding for Void, an elegant spiral of stainless steel.

Another early collection of sculpture in the area can be found at Elgee Park, the property of Sarah and Baillieu Myer. Recognized as generous philanthropists who have donated significant collections of paintings to public institutions, the Myers began to form a sculpture collection at Elgee Park in the early '80s. Works are arranged throughout what is basically a country farm and vineyard, placed around the winery building, at the end of vine rows, and on the long walk down to the dam. The featured sculptors range from established and revered practitioners, including Lenton Parr, Inge King, and Robert Klippel, to mid-career sculptors such as Geoffrey Bartlett and younger artists such as Anton McMurray and Simon Normand. Until the last few years, this collection was not widely known to the public.

Ian Hick's property at Shoreham Park, Shoreham, is a delightful mix of scrubby bush, cultivated gardens, and open paddocks, with spectacular views across to the ocean. This diversified landscape creates ideal areas for the display of his collection since a number of the works were selected from Sydney's annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions. Ylang Ylang, a formal work in steel by Philip Spelman is painted bright lemon-yellow, which contrasts superbly with the muted grays of the eucalyptus trees, while Icons of a New Religion, by Peter D. Coles, is enclosed within a small garden, where it appears as a colorful series of symbols.

Alara Gardens, a private residence not open to the public, is the most formal of the Mornington collections. Unlike the winding rural bush track at Elgee Park, the entrance to Alara Gardens is stately-a long straight drive flanked by rows of poplar trees. Beside the lake, as though grazing on the lush grass, a series of strange hybrid creatures in Cor-ten steel can be seen. These Excavators are the work of the South Australian sculptor Greg Johns. At the far end of the lake, elegant, orange-red, plastic rods, by Kon Dimopoulos, gently undulate in the breeze. While many of the works can be viewed from a considerable distance, including Adrian Mauriks's impressive installation Garden of Eden, others encourAbove: age close inspection within the enclosed garden spaces. …

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