Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi Beach

November 18, 2007 at 10:46 pm (Uncategorized)

There’s a lovely annual sculpture exhibition in Sydney called ‘Sculpture by the Sea,’ and it takes over the coastal walk between Icebergs at South Bondi and Tamarama Beach. It’s an incredible setting for an art exhibition. The path itself already takes in some of my favourite views in the world, and I love the way one’s gaze tends to wander in a seamless transition from a sculpture, out over the cliffs, down past luridly green, algae-coated rocks, and then across the Pacific to the horizon. It’s wonderful, especially late afternoon as we were doing it.

Of course, we were far from the only ones with that bright idea. It was uncomfortably crowded, and made me think that next year I might try and get over there bright and early one morning. I don’t mind crowds in a downtown New York and Tokyo kind of way – not at all, oddly enough – but I hate crowded spaces when everyone’s objective is identical. You don’t get that feeling of millions of people all pursuing their own goals; it’s just millions of people impeding my ability to pursue mine. And my goal yesterday was a leisurely stroll along the coast enjoying the sculptures up close and in my own sweet time. Fat chance.

We were there on the last day, so you might think it serves me right, and what was I expecting? Well, we were there for Llew’s mum’s birthday: meet at Flic’s, do the walk, head out for a family dinner in Bondi. All of which we did. A glass of champagne at Flic’s to fortify us for the walk, a couple of hours on the walk, and dinner at the relaxed and friendly Japanese restaurant RAW BAR (Cnr Wairoa and Warners Ave, Bondi Beach, +61 2 9365 7200).

The organisers of Sculpture by the Sea have an annoying habit of refusing to identify the name of the artist and the work anywhere but in the official program. I would really like to be able to tell you all about the pieces I loved, but I can’t, because by the time we got there no one was selling programs, so I couldn’t buy one even if I’d wanted to. It’s a free exhibition, so I make no quarrel with this policy on the basis of the fact that I wouldn’t mind paying something toward seeing it, but I do think they could at least have little cards telling you what the damn thing is called and who the hell did it. The program could then go into all the symbolic and material detail. As it is I really don’t know what to say except stupid, meaningless things like ‘I liked the whimsical nature of the one with the three floating figures and the umbrella.’


Anyway, although the crowds get tedious, at the same time it was terrific to see people from all walks out there on the, er, walk.

We were going to go to North Bondi Italian, but a cast of thousands beat us there, and then some 12 year old waitress was rude to Flic. It’s one thing I don’t miss about living in Bondi: attitude. Reams and reams of attitude. Manly, on the whole, is just nowhere near as pretentious and full of itself. Don’t these people get at all tired of sitting around posing and telling themselves how fabulous they are? It sure bores the shit out of me just seeing it happen. And as for the rude waitress: check your job description, honey. Dealing with a customer asking for a table kind of goes with the territory.

I’m glad we didn’t go there. RAW BAR was lovely food (good, flavourful miso with tofu and seaweed, tasty gyoza with a dipping sauce I could drink by the glass, generous and so delicately battered seafood and vegetable tempura, and a sushi and sashimi combination platter that persuaded us that we really deserved one more) and very cheerful service. We knocked back a couple of bottles of wine as the sun went down and an evening breeze brought sweet relief. And as I do every time I’m in Bondi, before dinner I nervously popped around to Gould St to check my old family home at Granddad’s had not yet been razed to the ground by money-mad developers. Nope – it’s still standing, at least for now. It’s always such a relief to find it’s still there. Ah Bondi, I do love you so, but I think I am finally starting to be able to let go.


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