6 May 2024

Murrumbateman artist has designs on coveted Sculpture for Clyde prize

| Sally Hopman
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Man in welding gear

Murrumbateman sculptor Michael Le Grand has entered his piece Ebb and Flow in the 2024 Sculpture for Clyde event, which opens later this month. Photos: Supplied.

About 30 years ago, sculptor Michael Le Grand needed somewhere he could create – and make a lot of noise.

Living in Canberra, he had a studio at Pialligo but he wanted a place where he could live, be inspired and show his work to clients, and for that he needed space, lots of space.

Michael creates sculptural works in steel. His large, colourful pieces are in private and public collections around the world, including Parliament House in Canberra and the Australian National University. Michael has been working with his preferred medium, steel, since he started art school in 1974.

“Steel has a strength, you can cross great distances with it,” he said. “It is an additive process but you can remove it just as simply. If you put something together carving wood, the carving creates waste and you can’t put it back together.

”Stone is the same. But with steel, you can cross those distances and support something. You can get elegance into it or make it look foreboding.”

After studying and creating works in London, Michael returned to Australia in 1994, moving to Murrumbateman, where he not only found the space to create his large works, but also peace of mind conducive to a creative working environment.

During his career, he has exhibited around the world and taught at the ANU’s School of Art, retiring as head of its sculpture school in 2007. He has been exhibiting at the Sculpture by the Sea event at Bondi for more than 20 years.

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Today, he is working just as solidly, creating pieces at Murrumbateman and using the property to showcase his work to clients.

The next goal on his horizon is winning one of the top sculpture prizes in the land, and his work Ebb and Flow has just been shortlisted for Sculpture for Clyde 2024.

Sculpture for Clyde returns to the Batemans Bay waterfront for 10 days from 25 May, with artists from all over the country competing for a prize-money purse of more than $115,000.

The winning sculpture will join previous winners on the permanent Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk along the foreshore between Batemans Bay Bridge and Corrigans Cove.

The 2024 event will be the largest since the showpiece began five years ago, with more than 110 sculptures for exhibition and sale.

Michael said it was the second time he had entered a sculpture in the South Coast event.

“It’s a great location for works,” he said, adding that it had grown into a prestigious event, endorsed by the sculpture community.

Michael’s Ebb and Flow is a large piece created from a rolled steel plate and painted a deep red in metallic paint.

“It’s about five metres long and just under two metres high,” he said.

Large red steel sculpture in a field

Ebb and Flow, the large steel sculpture created by Michael Le Grand, is destined for the 2024 Sculpture on Clyde event.

“It’s all about rolling forms, a gently lyrical piece. It’s not about browbeating anyone with a particular agenda, it is just to be looked at.

“Ultimately, I’d like people to see in it what they want to see. You can’t dictate over single-issue stuff, it is a visual experience. Some people may evaluate it on its size and colour, that’s up to them.”

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The big question is how you transport such a large piece down to the coast. Very carefully, it seems.

“I have a friend who helped me build the work – and he has a truck,” Michael said.

They have redesigned the frame so it can be lifted more easily and transported safely.

Sculpture for Clyde, a free public event, runs from Saturday, 25 May, to Sunday, 2 June, on the Batemans Bay foreshore.

Original Article published by Sally Hopman on About Regional.

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