As a professional in the advertising industry, Dave Mercer knows how to brand a product. But shouldn’t branding the environment prove a bridge too far?
Not according to the works on show at this year’s Sculpture by the Sea exhibition in Bondi, starting on October 18 at its traditional position on the Bondi-to-Tamarama coastal walk. Mr Mercer has created a large-sized sculpture of the word ‘VIEW’, which doesn’t exactly fit in with the surrounding natural environment.
“As a sculptor, I’m interested in the way we interact with brands, and the way brands interact with us as consumers,” Mr Mercer said. “I find that as people, we tend to form emotional attachments to certain products that probably don’t really deserve an emotional attachment.
“It’s through branding that those attachments come about.”
After enlisting a fabricator to build his sculpture in China, Mr Mercer, 32, submitted his sculpture for the exhibition in 2011 but was not listed until this year.
“The idea behind the sculpture is basically of branding the environment, which I’m sure is something that advertises would love to be able to do if they could,” he said. “I wonder if that would be a good thing or a bad thing.”
After completing a degree in Fine Arts at the University of Wollongong ten years ago, Mr Mercer was forced to turn his back on the art industry to concentrate on earning a living in advertising. But his fondness for sculpture remained, and he built the VIEW sculpture using 3D software before having the idea fabricated.
“I contacted a few [fabricators] in Australia as well but the price was too much,” Mr Mercer said. “Then I went with one outfit in China, and we had between 60 and 70 emails back and forth working out the details. Then they built it and shipped it over.”
Originally created to ensure Sydney had a major free-to-the-public arts event, Sculpture by the Sea has run since its inception in 1997. As the world’s largest annual free-to-the-public outdoor sculpture exhibition, the event will feature over 100 works from Australian and international artists.
“We let 100 crowded minds loose on this walk every year,” Founding Director David Handley said. “Half of the artists this year will be brand new … we have some of the top of sculptors in the world taking part.”