Sculpture Parks Down Under
Australia's landscape is predestined to exhibit sculpture: lush grasslands, dense scrubland, vineyards, beaches and endless open spaces. Here, you can lose yourself in the blink of an eye. That is why it is no wonder that the country attracts sculptors as well as collectors and art lovers. In Australia, sculpture can exist in complete unity with its surroundings.
For our expert Elly Buckley, there are three sculpture parks in Victoria that convey this feeling in a very special way: the McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery, the Montalto Sculpture Trail, and the Pt. Leo Estate Sculpture Park. These parks were all set up by private collectors and made accessible to the public. "Each of them has its own merits," explains Elly. "I think in order to fully appreciate them, you have to visit all three together." Since the parks are only half an hour apart, that is no problem!
So, let's go on a little round trip! We start at McClelland Sculpture Park, about 50 km southwest of Melbourne at the beginning of the Mornington Peninsula. McClelland Park is one of the oldest public accessible sculpture parks in the region and already looks back on a history of almost 50 years. On 16 hectares, more than 100 works of art can be admired in a beautiful bush land environment with a special focus on the Kulin Culture (Indigenous Australian Tribe). A long walk takes you passed works by influential and predominately Australian artists such as Lisa Roet, Clement Meadmore and Patricia Piccinini. The permanent collection consists of a balanced mix of newcomers to the contemporary scene and established figures of the 20th century.
We continue to advance to the peninsula and cover another 40km to the Montalto Sculpture Trail. The permanent collection of this park is small, but qualitative. The approximately 1km long, varied sculpture trail leads through wetlands and over green meadows. The trail takes walkers along idyllic paths to about 30 works. Many of the works were created as part of the annual Montalto Sculpture Prize. The renowned competition encourages artists to create monumental outdoor works. The selected works of the finalists can be admired every year from February to August. The winner's work will then remain in the sculpture park. This ensures constant growth and something new to discover every year. Last year, the Melbourne artist Mike Nicholls was the winner. The finalists of this year have already been announced, but the winner will be proclaimed later this year.
Only a few minutes away from Montalto is our last stop: the Sculpture Park of Pt. Leo Estates. This family-owned park with a sea view has only recently opened its doors to the public - together with a restaurant and its own winery. Here, you can end the day with a glass of wine, but not until you have seen the fantastic collection of over 50 works from Australian and international artists! Two trails, with lengths of approximately an hour and a half in total, lead visitors through the breath-taking landscape past works by international celebrities such as Tony Cragg and popular Australian sculptors such as Deborah Halpern.
Victoria holds many beautiful and exciting things for nature and sculpture lovers. If you want to get an impression of the Australian sculpture affinity, then a tour through these three sculpture parks is certainly a great idea. “Even after several visits you will never be bored,” Elly says and also enthuses, "No matter how often I go, the works always speak to me in a slightly different way." A first visit is certainly a good start!