Sculpture by the Sea has been one of the best known and most successful international competitive sculpture exhibitions in the world for more than 10 years. I have known about it as an opportunity for a long time, but it was only when I decided to propose an installation that I realized my chance to participate. Because I was not in a position to finance shipping one of my large-scale steel or cast iron sculptures to Australia as an entry to the exhibition, I designed an installation, which could be made of survey flags. Shipping 6,000 flags to Sydney was expensive but possible! I was delighted and encouraged when my request for support from Presco was met with the donation of all the flags that I needed for the installation! I have used Presco flags for several years to make installations but I had never done one at this scale. After researching suppliers on-line I found Presco to have the best quality, prices, services and delivery. No other supplier had as extensive a range of flags, printing options and customer service.
My installation at Sculpture by the Sea –Bondi was inspired by a research trip that my wife Catherine and I took to Australia in 2009. We started our travel in Cairns, where we went to the Great Barrier Reef, spent another day in the Rain Forest and then flew to Alice Springs. Our visit to the heart of Australia, especially exploring Uluru, the great red rock that is sacred to the indigenous people, was the highlight of the trip. We also explored Sydney, visited Canberra and spent a day in the Blue Mountains. The center of this vast continent is often referred to as “ the Red Center”. Our experience confirmed the accuracy of this title and that became the scheme for my installation. “Red Center” was composed of concentric rings of alternating red and yellow survey flags with the innermost rings comprised solely of red flags.
I was a bit surprised by the complexity and extent of the logistical and safety issues that Sculpture by the Sea raised in regard to my installation. Many e-mails and even several telephone calls resolved many of the questions but for some reason the survey flags were seen as a possible maintenance problem for a show being staged over almost three weeks. All remaining concerns were answered when, on the third day of the exhibition, a terrific storm blew in from the sea and several sculptures were literally blown down. I made my way to “Red Center” at first light and discovered that a few dozen flags had been bent down by the wind. It took less than an hour to make things right again and I never heard another word about maintenance issues!