Australia's most famous sculpture show got smashed by huge seas

Damaged works on Tamarama Beach at Sculpture by the Sea. Photo: Michael Donaldson

A king tide and 3-metre waves destroyed or damaged several works at the Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition on Monday.

The 20th anniversary show had tried to brace for the ocean’s fury by moving several works on Tamarama Beach further inland ahead of the afternoon’s high tide.

An intense low-pressure system off the NSW coast exacerbated the wild seas.

Two more works on the headland between Bondi and Tamarama, Alien: Self consciousness is a virus from outer space, by Germany’s Angelika Summa and Elyssa Sykes-Smith’s A Weighted Embrace, were swept into the water as waves crashed over the rocks.

It’s just the third time in 20 years that the weather has damaged works. In 1998, large waves damaged six sculptures and the following year, bad weather destroyed Give a little whistle by Duncan Stemler.

Monday’s wild surf on Sydney’s coastline. Photo: Michael Donaldson

Sculpture by the Sea founding director David Handley said Monday’s tide and surf were “unprecedented”.

“We just didn’t expect that the tide and the surf was going to be as big as it was,” he said.

“The work that has been destroyed, we moved it 25 metres back from the end of the stormwater drain. In all these years we’ve never had a work damaged on there, but the waves were so strong they still swept it off. I’ve never seen it so substantial in Tamarama.”


A work protesting against Australia’s refugee policy, Fair Dinkum Offshore Processing by Melbourne’s Bronek Kozka‚Äč, was dragged from its installation spot and smashed as the surging tide swept all the way up the normally dry sands of the cove and onto the walkway behind.

While organisers retrieved the lost works from the seas and assessed the damage, the sculptures were tested against on Tuesday morning’s high tide.

Michael Donaldson captured this footage of the waves sweeping up Tamarama Beach on Monday and shared it with Business Insider:

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