Batemans Bay is famous for its oysters and spectacular riverside setting, but this South Coast NSW holiday haven is also increasingly becoming known for its public art.
This is largely thanks to the Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk, an innovative, volunteer-run public art project spearheaded by the Batemans Bay Tourism and Business Chamber that has transformed the Bateman Bay foreshore into a vibrant outdoor gallery.
It all started with ‘Duet’, a welded aluminum sculpture of two larger-than-life seedlings by Nowra artist Dora A. Rognvaldsdotti that scooped the $50,000 Acquisitive Award at the inaugural Sculpture for Clyde festival in 2017. The striking sculpture was installed at the southern end of Clyde Street, adjacent to the scenic Mara Mia Walkway that hugs the Clyde River from the iconic Batemans Bay Bridge to the southern end of town, forming the beginning of the Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk.
Seven more sculptures have since been added to the trail, including the Acquisitive Award- winning sculptures from the 2018 and 2019 Sculpture for Clyde festivals hosted in partnership with Willinga Park in nearby Bawley Point each spring.
Now spanning 1.5km, the sculpture walk currently ends at the Batemans Bay Marina, where you’ll find Eden-based artist Jesse Graham’s comical portrayal of local wildlife in the form of ‘Peilicant’ – a crowd favourite at the 2018 festival which was acquired for the walk via a crowdfunding campaign.
For David MacLachlan, who developed the concept during his tenure as President of the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce, the sculpture walk isn’t just a sustainable addition to the local tourism landscape, but also an accessible opportunity for all to enjoy art.
“The sculptures are all located close to the pathway, so no matter whether you choose to walk, ride, or even drive down Beach Road, you can enjoy these incredible artworks produced by artists from the Eurobodalla region and beyond,” David says. Weaving past a handful of waterfront restaurants and cafes, the walk is set to expand every year as new sculptures are installed. “We’re hoping to see it run all the way to Batehaven,” David adds.
The Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk complements an array of street art murals that have enlivened the urban landscape over the past couple of years, including an Indigenous mural on the laneway next to Bay Office Supplies. Depicting local clan stories, the mural was painted as part of a schools project, with another Indigenous mural due to be painted 2021.
Two additional murals were also painted in Batemans Bay as part of the REVIVE murals project during the 2020 River of Art festival, a 10-day event also held every spring that showcases creative arts across the region. Look out for Moruya artist Happy Decay’s playful mural on the corner of North and Perry streets, and for Sydney-based artist Krimsone’s mystical seadragon mural on the eastern laneway of Promenade Plaza in Orient Street.
There’s also a local arts and culture trail currently in development, which will make it easier than ever for locals and visitors alike to seek out Batemans Bay’s unique public art.