Sculpture in the mountains

Katoomba – a town of mists and mellow fruitfulness … and sculpture! With three related exhibitions across town, both indoors and out, now is the time to visit to get your 3D fix.

The main event Sculpture at Scenic World outdoor exhibition is in its fourth year, and features a spectacular display of sculptural pieces in the bush setting of the Blue Mountains National Park, complemented by the partnership exhibition Sculpture Otherwise inside the Blue Mountains City Art Gallery. In addition, Metalheads, a Sculpture Projects initiative, has pieces on display in three locations: the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Scenic World and the iconic Carrington Hotel.

I was lucky enough to be taken through Sculpture Otherwise by Sabrina Roesner, exhibitions manager at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, which incorporates the art gallery. As co-curator with Justin Morrissey, exhibition manager at Scenic World, she was excited to discuss this partnership which celebrates sculpture as both an outdoor and indoor medium, with the smaller pieces, often made from found objects and recycled materials, displayed in the gallery setting.

The Cultural Centre’s courtyard floats above the township and, even on a cloudy day, you sense the immensity of the valley beyond, with the sea of green bush at its foot. Indoors, the spaciousness is continued in the airy Blue Mountains City Art Gallery, with its high curved ceiling and sparse furnishings that allow artworks to be displayed with no distractions and maximal light. Sculpture Otherwise is one of three exhibitions running concurrently in the space, but there is no sense of crowding, and the 2D hangs –paintings by John Caldwell and works on paper by David Middlebrook – form a neat contrast to the 3D sculptural pieces.

Some sculptures are maquettes for the larger pieces on display in the bush valley below Scenic World, but most­­ are stand-alone pieces, with the curators choosing a good mix of media, sculptural styles and pieces for the space.

Two artists that should be mentioned here are Elyssa Sykes-Smith, who was the winner of the overall $20,000 Sculpture at Scenic World 2015 prize, and Hannah Surtees, an emerging artist who won the Exhibition Opportunity to place her larger piece in the Cultural Centre’s courtyard. Elyssa’s work is an intricate curved net of recycled timber while Hannah’s rusted lacy ironwork invokes old machinery.

As a recently returned Blue Mountains resident, I am encouraged at how well-integrated the arts scene is – the partnership of the tourism-focused Scenic World and the publicly funded cultural centre shows a degree of supportive collaboration that should encourage more artists to produce and submit works that fit into either or both the natural splendour of the World Heritage bushland and the indoor and outdoor spaces that Katoomba has to offer.


To find out more about Sculpture Otherwise (15 April – 10 May), visit the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre website here:

Spend a day exploring all of the exhibitions on offer – purchase your combined tickets from Scenic World, the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre or online at:


Ondine (aka Mountains Muser) is an online producer with over twenty years’ experience working in the museums sector. Now living in the Blue Mountains, she gets to ponder her twin passions – art and science – while staring out the window of the train to and from the big smoke.


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