New Woollahra public art gallery opens

The winner of the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize exhibition 2021 is Rhonda Sharpe’s Desert Woman with Mustache, Cooloman and Pretty Clothes. Credit:Courtesy of Rhonda Sharpe and Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize

A two-time winner of the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, Ms Sharpe “couldn’t believe it was true” when she was told she had won the award.

“So, I thought, why did I win, but I really love making soft sculptures, I always get ideas of things to make! I’m really proud to win this award because sewing makes me happy.”

She planned to use the winnings to buy a gym membership. Along with sewing, cleaning her house and doing her art, it was one of the things that made her happy.

With only a single criterion, that each entry is less than 80cms in any dimension, selecting a shortlist from 844 diverse entries from around the world was difficult, said one of three judges Dr Lara Strongman, a director at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney.

Selecting the winner was comparatively easy and unanimous, she said. The judges had been looking for “originality and presence in the gallery” and Rhonda Sharpe’s work was “utterly distinctive, unlike anything else.”

Ms Sharpe’s work also made the judges laugh. Jenny Kee, another judge, said, “It takes sculpture to another dimension in its vibrancy, its originality, its humour and naive beauty.”

Winning artist Rhonda SharpeCredit:Sarah Andrews

Sydney-artist Mechelle Bounpraseuth received special commendation for her sculptures of slightly misshaped condiment bottles. The 2021 Mayor’s Award was given to Kate Coyne.

NSW artist Michael Harrell’s work, Politics?, was highly commended. A twist on the Three
Wise Monkeys, it shows naked world leaders, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong- un, – presiding over death and destruction.

Susan Wynne, Mayor of Woollahra, said Woollahra was excited to open the doors to this fantastic new public gallery for the community to enjoy.

For the new coordinator Goldspink, who is also curator for the 2022 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, the new job was like coming home.

Sebastian Goldspink says working as the Gallery coordinator of the new Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf was like coming home.

Sebastian Goldspink says working as the Gallery coordinator of the new Woollahra Gallery at Redleaf was like coming home.Credit:Rhett Wyman

The old library was “the first place I really looked at art books in my life,” said Goldspink.

The new gallery includes a reading library of art books including those donated by the estate of the art dealer Eva Breuer and the outgoing director of the MCA Liz Ann Macgregor.

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