Alcoa Aluminium Sculpture Award recipient signals hope on the horizon at Sculpture by the Sea
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Alcoa Aluminium Sculpture Award recipient signals hope on the horizon at Sculpture by the Sea
Alcoa Australia President Michael Gollschewski with Ben Jones, Tony Jones and Angela McHarrie at MJ+J Studios’ Fremantle studio. Photo credit: Jess Wyld.

PERTH.- The recipient of this year’s Alcoa Aluminium Sculpture Award at Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe is being seen as a shining light of hope during the turbulent times associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

The sculpture, ‘Lite House’, by Perth-based art collective MJ+J Studio is a 3m-tall structure made from aluminium and LED lighting. It will sit on the groyne on Cottesloe Beach during this year’s exhibition providing a sparkling beacon after sundown.

MJ+J Studio is headed by Tony Jones OAM, one of WA’s most senior and well respected sculptors, who worked in collaboration with his son Ben Jones and Angela McHarrie.

The highly sought-after $10,000 award highlights Alcoa’s 17 years of continued commitment to supporting artists in Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe that use aluminium in striking and unique ways.

Alcoa Australia President Michael Gollschewski said the company was proud to play a part in making the arts accessible to everyone through its 17-year involvement with the iconic beach-side exhibition and in supporting our established and emerging artists.

“This year we are delighted that 12 artists have chosen to work predominantly with aluminium including the trio behind MJ+J Studio, who are worthy recipients of our award,” he said.

“Not only does the impressive scale and construction of their work showcase the versatility and strength of aluminium but the symbolism of ‘Lite House’ will stand as a beacon of hope during what has been a turbulent time for many in our community .”

Tony Jones OAM, Angela McHarrie and Ben Jones have been working together for more than 10 years, previously as Tony Jones Art Projects, out of their studio in O’Connor, an industrial suburb of Fremantle. The collective launched the new moniker, MJ+J Studio, this year with ‘Lite House’ to better express the group nature of the three artists who make up the collective. Jones, McHarrie and Jones have together created a substantial portfolio of collaborative public artworks, with each making a unique and valued contribution to the process of production and resolution of their joint artwork.

Said Jones, McHarrie and Jones: “The award is very unexpected. It is always a thrill to have your artwork recognised in this way. It is, however, tempered by the knowledge that it is often a subjective decision and many other worthy participants could easily have been chosen.

“So it is with gratitude and appreciation that we accept the award and thank all those sponsors, organisers and artists who make such a commitment to Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe each year to showcase the works of sculptors.”

The award is part of Alcoa’s long-running support for Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe. The integrated bauxite miner and alumina and aluminium producer is a founding and major sponsor of the exhibition. As well as the aluminium award, the resources company supports the Alcoa School Education Program, which each year provides approximately 2,400 students with a backstage pass to the exhibition and artistic process.

Sculpture by the Sea Founding Director David Handley AM said, “It is tremendous to be able to support the artists thanks to Alcoa’s ongoing sponsorship. As Alcoa’s 17-year sponsorship evolves, this is the third year Alcoa has funded this significant award for WA artists who work in aluminium. The Alcoa award has now become an important part of the structure of support that encourages the sculptors of WA to persevere with their creative but expensive and challenging careers.”

Celebrating its 17th year, Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe is one of Perth’s largest free-to-the-public events, attracting an estimated 200,000 visitors to explore the artworks.

Seventy artists from 13 countries are set to showcase their artwork across the 18-day exhibition, with a COVID Event Plan in place, including sculptors from Japan, the US, New Zealand, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Denmark, Malaysia and France – though no overseas artists are able to travel to Perth this year. Thirty-four artworks by Western Australian artists will showcase the State’s wealth of artistic talent, accompanied by sculptures from interstate artists from New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

Sculpture by the Sea will again ask each visitor to the exhibition to donate $5 on entry as a voluntary contribution or $10 for families. On top of the decline in corporate sponsorship and government support in recent years, this year the event did not receive any Federal government funding as the Australia Council did not renew its annual support of $100,000 provided for the last five years through the Catalyst Fund.

Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe will run from 5-22 March 2021.

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