ABC STATELINE PROGRAM - Sculpture by the Sea 2010

Quentin Dempster, host of Stateline in New South Wales, has agreed to take us on a last minute tour of Sculpture by the Sea, it closes on Sunday.

Now its 12th year, more than half a million people are expected to have done the Tamarama-Bondi walk to breathe the fresh air, look at the ocean and admire the 107 sculptures.

Quentin took art critic John McDonald along with him.

JOHN MCDONALD, SMH ART CRITIC: This is Dave Horton, a previous winner of Sculpture by the Sea.

It is like a quasi-architectural arrangement. You feel as though you would walk in and around this piece that it’s on a roughly human scale. It's like something which is made to fulfil a particular purpose although you can't quite say what it is.

It's that teasing dimension, that sense of being almost furniture, of being almost architecture, of having a flat dimension s so when you stand you can see all the shapes clearly outlined, but never the less all one thing - it's unified by the fact that it's this rust y orangey metal.

It's like I said, an extremely elegant piece.

QUENTIN DEMPSTER, REPORTER: 'Sydney Morning Herald' art critic John McDonald was one of the original judges at Bondi Sculpture by the Sea 12 years ago, when art entrepreneur David Handley founded the exhibition.

JOHN MCDONALD: I think this is as good as any of Tim's pieces I've seen, actually. It's quite a successful piece.

It's got him, this figure sitting, sprawled on the beach like a great mountain. He always has this rather ungainly, ugly bald-headed characters, this one wearing a gas mask. Well I don't know if that's a comment on pollution, I don't know whether it's a reference to 'On the Beach', which is Nevil Shute's novel of course about a nuclear Holocaust where Ava Gardener came out to Australia and said I can think of no other better place to film the end of the world.

QUENTIN DEMPSTER: We also bumped into sculpture Rod McRae, who has done some research into Tamarama's once popular Wonderland Fun Palais which existed here until 1911.

He's re-created some of the Wonderland animal characters in steel, polystyrene, resin and bronze finish.

(To Rod) So all these characters would have been well known to the people of Sydney who visited Wonderland at the time?

ROD MCRAE, SCULPTOR: Well, there's a bit of artistic licence there, but the elephant Alice was well known, that gave children rides on the beach. And there was apparently a lonely penguin in an enclosure so, I've included that. And the rest are kind of the tallest man and the ring master and they're kind of generic figures, I suppose that you might have found in Tin-pan Alley or, you know, the vaudeville woman who was possibly playing in the 1,000-seat vaudeville theatre they're was here at the time. So it was a big affair, yeah.

QUENTIN DEMPSTER: As a special tribute to SBS and ABC arts broadcaster Andrea Stretton, an enthusiastic supporter of Sculpture by the Sea who died a year ago, the organisers have established a memorial sculptural commission, this year to Western Australian sculptor Kevin Draper, with this steel and concrete piece called 'Fragment'.

And the winner is... veteran designer and sculptor Mark McClelland's dramatic mile steel and bronzed installation called 'she thought'.

JOHN MCDONALD: On one hand, this is just a really simple bit of modular sculpture. It's a wall but it's a wall with a key hole, a kind of a porthole cut in it and it's something which is really nicely located.

Because when you look through that circle you see the horizon line of the ocean, as you move forward or backwards, the horizon line lowers, or raises itself.

It's really like a piece of architecture or something taken out of a building and just put there in a different context.