Featured in 2012 Sculptures By the Sea, Bondi Now installed permanently at McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, VIC Each year in Sydney an outdoor sculpture exhibition called Sculpture by the Sea takes place for four weeks along the coastal walk of Bondi and Tamarama. Gillie and Marc have been a part of this festival twice now and have taken out awards for their artworks that have been seen by over a half million people In 2012, the artists created The Travellers Have Arrived for the event. The festival director’s response was that it was “brilliantly modelled” and a highlight for many visitors. “Bondi is a pilgrimage,” Marc says “Backpackers from around the world flock there to call it home. The characters were inspired by Mary and Joseph. So the sculpture represents Bondi as a modern-day Bethlehem.” The Travellers Have Arrived exemplifies the way art can make us feel small. These artworks remind us that we’re just like everyone else, we’re never alone in our travels – whether they’re across the world or across town for coffee. We’re all just ants in an ant farm. The Travellers Have Arrived is now on permanent exhibition at the McClelland Sculpture Park in Langwarrin, Victoria. The McClelland Sculpture Park is Australia’s leading sculpture park, and an innovative space for contemporary sculpture to be shown.
Tell me a little bit about “The Travellers Have Arrived”? How was it made? What does it mean to you? How did it end up in Las Vegas?
’The Travellers Have Arrived’ was a piece we originally created for the renowned outdoor sculpture exhibition, ‘Sculpture by the Sea’ in Sydney, Australia in 2012. The original location, Bondi, is like a pilgrimage for travellers from all around the world searching for surf, adventure, and a place to call home. Expertly crafted from silicon bronze, the characters of the sculpture were inspired by Mary and Joseph on their famous pilgrimage, turning Bondi into a modern day Bethlehem. The sculpture reminds us that we’re just like everyone else, we’re never alone in our travels, whether that takes us across the world or across town for a coffee.
’The Travellers Have Arrived’ was moved to New York City where it lived for two years, but The Cosmopolitan had their eye on it. After conversations with the hotel, we decided that Las Vegas and The Cosmopolitan were a wonderful location for ‘The Travellers’ to move on to.
What makes this public art a good fit for Las Vegas and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas?
When The Cosmopolitan approached us with their desire to have the sculpture moved to their hotel, we realised it would be a great fit. Welcoming other travellers from all across the world to one of the top tourist destinations, ‘The Travellers Have Arrived’ would become a welcoming and comforting sight to all who are seeking comfort and companionship while away from their home. Just like it was for Bondi, Las Vegas would become the modern day Bethlehem. As a luxury hotel, The Cosmopolitan is a great fit, tying in with the luxurious qualities of bronze and the stylish and innovative concept of the design.
Were there any unique challenges in bringing this to/installing this in Las Vegas?
Yes, the distance the sculpture had to be transported and the weight of it. The sculpture weighs one tonne worth of bronze, so it is very heavy. This created a logistical challenge with a distance of 2,232 miles to cover from New York City to Las Vegas.
Being a married couple, what are some of the challenges/advantages of working together?
We are incredibly lucky to work as a couple because we believe we are soul mates. We have lived and worked side by side for the past 27 years and it has been absolutely wonderful. We spark creativity within each other and encourage one another to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. We have had the most wonderful experiences, such as travelling to Kenya to meet and study the final three white rhinos, which we then created a hugely successful public sculpture to promote the struggles of these beautiful animals. It is wonderful to work as a team and we would not change it for the world.
Public art by renowned artists has become increasingly accessible to tourists and locals in Las Vegas resort-casinos? Any thoughts on this?It is fantastic that public art is becoming more accessible. Public art makes a city richer in terms of history, culture, and beauty. It is a wonderful way of telling a story or giving an important message. It can tell the history of the city, or showcase what is important for the people. Having this story told in a way that millions of people can access on a regular basis shows the importance of these messages and sparks conversations and passion on a scale that a work in a gallery could never invoke. We have been using our sculpture projects to try to contribute to the change we want to see in the world. By showcasing important issues such as conservation and gender equality, we are planting the seed for change into the minds of all who see them, a seed that could eventually blossom into activism and change.