Sunday, June 16, 2024

Ingrid won $100,000 for doing something she loves, and says it will be ‘life-changing’

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Sydney has its Sculpture by the Sea, but a small town on the NSW south coast is now matching its lucrative prize pool.

Sculpture for the Clyde has attracted thousands of people to Batemans Bay, and offered a first-prize purse of $100,000.

Sculptor Ingrid Morley said she was so excited she felt “light-headed” when she heard her name called out as the winner.

Her piece The Past is Just Behind will be permanently displayed on the Batemans Bay foreshore.

Ingrid Morley created the winning sculpture.(ABC South East NSW: Bernadette Clarke)

“It’s an extraordinary privilege to have been part of the exhibition and to of just been selected is other-worldly,” she said.

Ms Morley, from the Jenolan Caves, said the win was a highlight of her life.

“It’s life-changing, that amount,” she said.

“It’s the biggest award that I know about in Australia at the moment … it puts a blast of air under your wings.”

A stainless steal silver sculpture curved into the air.

George Andric’s stainless steel sculpture Ellipsis is one of many on display.(ABC South East NSW: Bernadette Clarke)

Highest prize money

But the winner of the equal-highest prize on offer in Australia for sculpture said she did not do it for the money.

“It takes an enormous amount of time and commitment to carry something through from beginning to end,”  Ms Morely said.

You’re not thinking you would make money out of it, otherwise you wouldn’t do it, it would change the spirit, it’s the furthest thing from my mind.”

A woman welds in a garage.

Ingrid Morley says the artwork has a profound personal meaning to her.(Supplied: Ingrid V Morley Instagram)

However, she said the money would be a significant boost after she lost her studio to a fire in 2021.

“I lost my studio and storage,” she said.

“It had everything in it that I had accumulated … notebooks and drawing books … things that are irreplaceable.”

Sea shells stacked on top of eachother in two rows in front of a nightsky river.

Evi Savvaidi’s piece Sky is the Limit is made out of aluminium. (ABC South East NSW: Bernadette Clarke)

Inspired by grief

Ms Morley said her grief from the fire, as well as losing a close friend in a car accident, helped inspire her sculpture piece.

“The sense of wanting to be alive translated into this work, it’s all about the uncertainty of being pinned down on one place and not being sure how to go forward which comes with grief,” she said.

“Then moving forward into that place of certainty and projecting hope into the future.”

She said the scratches on the piece were deliberate, noting that people sometimes became concerned when they saw them.

“To me, they are more like drawings,” she said.

“I don’t want a work that looks fresh out of the fabrication yard, I want to see the work in it, I want to see the effort, it’s sort of like an older face.

“Wrinkles are fabulous, and this is the work that is really presenting all the journeys that it’s been on.”

Regional art

Batemans Bay, which is home to about 17,500 people, managed to raise $100,000 for the event after many small businesses pitched in.

Event director David Maclachlan said it would not have been possible without the support of the community.

“It was raised by local business, which is fantastic, so a lot of people are very excited,” he said.

A man stands under a sculpture smiling

David Maclachlan with Sculpture for Clyde.(Supplied: Sculpture for Clyde)

“Regionally it is huge, to punch above your weight so to speak to have a $100,000 award outside a major metropolitan area is just extraordinary.

“The model of this is to bring people in [during] the off season, produce a sculpture walk which locals are proud of and tourists can admire.”

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