Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe aims to “engender a greater sense of community, introduce the public to a broad spectrum of sculpture, and support emerging and established national and international artists.” As an initiative, it’s closely aligned to some of the aims and attitudes of DADAA. This year, DADAA was excited to partner once again with Sculpture by the Sea in its Access & Inclusion Program, a program which aims to ensure the exhibition is inclusive, promotes diversity amongst emerging artists and encourages the participation of people with diverse abilities of all ages.
As part of DADAA’s partnership with Sculpture by the Sea, free tactile tours were offered where visitors with disability and their carers were invited to participate and be supported in their role as active audience members. The tours allowed for new ways of experiencing and enjoying contemporary sculpture through informed discussion and touch. Works were selected by both the artists and Sculpture by the Sea as being safe to touch, and located in accessible areas.
This year, DADAA was also proud to promote the work of artist Mandy White whose sculptures are included in Sculpture by the Sea. Mandy is an artist with Yamatji heritage who was born with an intellectual disability and diagnosed with autism later in life. She was recently the recipient of a Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries Aboriginal Arts grant to support her public art practice. Mandy works out of the DADAA Midland Art Studios, where she developed the series of four playful and brightly coloured sculptures, Olly, Miss Pinky, Barking Owl, and Kardy, which were on show. She constructed maquettes in DADAA’s studio inspired by her drawings, then worked with Fusion Customs Panel and Paint in Midvale to fabricate the sculptures in steel based on the maquettes.
Mandy’s work explores her fascination with the supernatural beings, little creatures that exist in the landscape, passed on to her through the storytelling of her mother and other family members. These stories are often scary, intended to communicate messages about safety – the importance of getting home before dark and respecting all the things that live in the bush. Mandy’s disability has given her a different perspective on these stories, and her interpretation is often more playful than frightening, reflecting her art practice. Mandy’s ‘little people’ are cheeky and naughty, at times scary and at other times mischievous and funny. They reside in the bush, but sometimes venture into suburbia to cause mayhem or maybe teach someone a lesson.
Olly is inspired Kambarang in the Noongar calendar, the second spring and season of birth, and the height of the wildflower season. This sculpture was painted in rainbow colours because she only comes out of hiding when she can blend into the bush. Miss Pinky is Mandy’s kangaroo bush critter. Though they are bush tucker, Mandy doesn’t like eating roo because she loves them; for her they are friendly and cute, and definitely not food! Barking Owl sees everything with his big meeyals(eyes). You can hear him at night and if you’re lucky, you’ll see him too. Kardy, slang for ‘crazy thing’, hides behind trees and then jumps out to scare children.
Mandy explores her interpretation of the stories of her Yamatji culture in these sculptures. For some people, talking about these ‘little people’ is taboo, but for Mandy, it is her way of staying connected to her family and culture. To further tell her stories, Mandy participated in the Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe’s School Education Program, leading workshops, with the support of a DADAA artsworker.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sculpture by the Sea has closed early.
Find out more information about Sculpture by the Sea’s Access & Inclusion Program here.
Read about the history of the partnership with DADAA here.
image: Mandy White, Olly, Miss Pinky, Barking Owl, and Kardy, fabricated steel and paint, 2020