Neerim Bower Sculpture Acquisition 2024

Out of the blue, the request winged in to create a Highlights Video for the Neerim Bower Sculpture Acquisition Event Free as a Bird.

As we’ve documented before, REDfusion loves being a part of community events and this one was a completely delightful experience! The event, held in Neerim South over 10 – 25 February, 2024, was filled with engaging people and stunning, intricate, colourful sculptures both large and small.

The IGA Neerim South Small Sculpture Award’s First Place was shared by Olivia O’Connor’s Eagle Hill and Liz Walker’s Birds Flying High.

Neerim Bower Sculpture Acquisition

We spoke with Olivia, an avid visitor in past years and first time exhibitor, who was beyond thrilled to receive the award. A country girl, Olivia loves to see eagles soaring above – like so many, running outside to stare at their majesty. Olivia tries through her work to capture the little unassuming moments of joy and calm in nature, with the hope of inspiring people to take those feelings into the outside world.

Olivia, a full-time wood carver, focusses her artistic skill on birds and this event’s small sculpture category was a perfect fit. Whilst believing the out-of-doors public work is fantastic and super-accessible, the small sculptures are more attainable to purchase and for makers to create pieces on a small scale. We agree with Olivia that, “As the event grows and broadens, it can only be a good thing.”

Olivia said the volunteers had been incredible, with passion and enthusiasm shown right from her initial enquiry about exhibiting. “It’s just, in all honesty, so wonderful to have a local community support the arts like this – it’s so rare and so special.”

Faustas Sadauskas’ stone carving, Weather-Vane, was awarded ‘Highly Commended’. Under the White Australia Policy, members of Faustas’ family immigrated from Lithuania in the late 1940s. Whilst Lithuania was still part of the USSR, Faustas returned to spend several years studying and reading old and ancient texts in a library.

Faustas humbly described the concept of Weather-Vane as a pivoting cone shape, with a teardrop shape on the end –  a rudimentary play of two abstract forms. Apparently in sculpture there are only a handful of forms – the cube, cylinder and sphere, and thereafter, variations of these forms – one of which is a cone. He further explained that the teardrop shape put on end is supposedly set in motion by wind, much like birds have motion in wind.

The stone used in this beautifully fashioned piece was sourced from disused quarries in East Gippsland (Faustus takes the opportunity to befriend the land owners, to their mutual benefit). The piece’s inscription is ancient text and the skill of its craftsman is evident in its intricacy. 

Faustas predominantly crafts smaller, indoor sculptures and so has not previously entered the event. He, too, raised the benefit of including small sculptures, as they are more accessible for local purchasers, whereas bigger pieces attract a premium price tag.

Added to our day’s gleaning of knowledge was a smidge of Greek mythology. Efrossini (Effie) Chaniotis explained that one of Aphrodite’s three handmaidens was named Efrossini. Effie’s artwork depicted Aphrodite, known mostly as the goddess of love, but with an alter ego of  warrior goddess. In Aphrodite’s Palace, Aphrodite is holding a real shell, depicting her connection with water and femininity.

Cupid, on one side, is passing her a sword, rather than the stereotypical bow and arrow; this encourages the conversation about Aphrodite also being the warrior of love. A stylised version of a swan, another strong symbol of love, is strategically placed on Aphrodite’s other side.

The three separate sculptures are tied together with ribbons of blue, also representing the sea. Effie’s passion for art and Greek mythology shone through both in Aphrodite’s Palace and her elucidation on the piece’s representations.

Well done Olivia, Faustas, Efrossini, all exhibitors, the Neerim Community Foundation, IGA Neerim South and all the other generous sponsors of this inspiring event!

As an added bonus to our day, we chatted with Melanie Caple, commissioned to paint a scenic mural on the Neerim South IGA laneway. This is not Melanie’s first mural and looking at previous works on her website, it is obvious that she is immensely talented.

We were given permission to capture some brush strokes at the early stage of Melanie’s soon-to-be masterpiece. The artist regularly referenced her phone and our supposition that it held the mural’s blueprint was confirmed but as it fell in the top secret category, we weren’t privy to a sneak peak. Another trip to Neerim South on the mural’s completion revealed the astonishing grandeur of Melanie’s design.