An arrogant, larger than life figure representing Australia’s reliance on coal has been selected for a major UNSW prize in this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition which opens today.
King Coal by UNSW alumnus and Art & Design lecturer, Louis Pratt, was awarded the inaugural UNSW Alumni Artist Award worth $5000.
Pratt created the sculpture with 3D scans which he then manipulated with virtual tools before the figure was 3D printed and moulded in silicone for casting.
“I wanted to anthropomorphise coal. The figure needed to exude arrogance, an unwillingness to change and seem unaware of his impending doom.”
“I wanted to anthropomorphise coal. The figure needed to exude arrogance, an unwillingness to change and seem unaware of his impending doom,” said Pratt of his sculpture which is just over 1.7 metres tall.
The artist dusted the sculpture with crushed coal which crumbled as the mould was removed leaving the impression of a deteriorating and defiant figure.
The title King Coal is from a novel by Upton Sinclair that describes the abysmal working conditions in the coal mining industry in the western United States during the early 20th century.
“Coal is an important issue for Australia which has helped us enjoy the quality of life we have today but a future with coal will lead to environmental disaster by irreparably poisoning our atmosphere,” said Pratt.
King Coal was also a finalist in this year’s prestigious Wynne Prize, one of Australia’s major sculpture awards.
Sculpture by the Sea also includes TransMigration, a comment on the environmental impact of plastic in our oceans, by current UNSW Art & Design student Jeremy Sheehan.
Transmigration is the result of a collaboration with 20 artists across the Pacific.
Sheehan distributed a kit to participants who then created representations of birds using washed-up plastic collected from the beaches and coastlines of their islands and countries. The results will be displayed around the Tamarama Surf Lifesaving Club.
Works by Art & Design alumni Vince Vozzo, Bronwyn Berman, Harrie Fasher, Barbara Licha, Mark McClelland, Sallie Portnoy, Paul Selwood and Margarita Sampson are also included in the exhibition which features 107 sculptures.
UNSW is a significant partner of Sculpture by the Sea, the world's largest free outdoor sculpture exhibition which runs until 8 November along Sydney’s Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk.