Imagine a seashell, coiled in a delicate spiral.
Imagine a wave, rolling and curling.
Imagine a seahorse, unfurling as it swims.
These are the shapes that inspired sculptor Ross Cameron, winner of the annual Bermagui Sculpture On The Edge competition. His entry, Spiral Tide, was reminiscent of those curving marine shapes, oversized and finished with a rusted colour, as though it was an ancient artwork dredged from the depths.
Spiral Tide was awarded the prestigious Bega Valley Shire Council acquisitive prize at the competition and was the largest piece to be exhibited. Made from a steel frame with concrete render, it is three metres high and weighs around 1.5 tonnes. Yet this vast structure is inviting rather than imposing, embracing the observer and echoing the rugged curves of Bermagui Park.
An experienced artist, Ross views the world with a unique perspective. “I often see small things in nature but I think – wow – imagine that on a bigger scale!” Inspired by something tiny, Ross will create a plasticine model before pencilling scaled sketches, so beautiful that they could easily be framed. “Things change so dramatically on a bigger scale,” Ross explains. “They develop some sort of essence of themselves, a larger than life dimension, that creates a totally new dialogue between you as a human and that object.”
Ross says his love of the arts began when he was young. “My mother is an artist. She’s always been a sculptor and a painter and a ceramicist. So I grew up with a creative background, working with my mum and playing with plasticine from very early on. I still work with plasticine. I just muck around with it.” Sure enough, a miniature model of Spiral Tide, made from turquoise plasticine is perched on Ross’s workshop bench.
His studio workshop is an interesting place. There are saws and vices and bags of cement alongside slow-cookers, kettles and eskies. Various unfinished sculptures stand guard – each one waiting for Ross to turn his attention to them. Out the back there is a gantry where the massive Spiral Tide sculpture received its finishing touches. “It got to a point where I realised, I can’t move this now!” Ross says with a laugh, recalling the drama with various cranes lifting and shifting his artwork.
While Ross is obviously enjoying his sculpting at the moment, he admits that he enjoys variety. “I like experimentation. I don’t like getting slotted into a pigeon hole.” But there doesn’t seem to be any danger of that. His work in the arts extends from establishing theatre groups, curating, building sets, designing trophies, filmmaking and sculpting figurines. Ross has even turned his hand to coin making and the The Hobbit inspired currency he co-created is in circulation in New Zealand.
Beyond the realm of creation, Ross also understands the administrative aspect of the arts. For more than ten years he worked as Director of Bega Valley Regional Art Gallery. Following that, he was Artists’ Cooperative Coordinator at Museum Puri-Lukisan in Bali. “I suppose I just want a creative life and that’s why I’ve gone across a number of areas, but I keep coming back to sculpture because I like the physical interaction and manipulation of form.” He is now director of his own company LoneRock Designs, specialising in limited edition garden sculptures.
Now, Ross’s award-winning Spiral Tide will be installed as a permanent fixture at Short Point Headland in Merimbula. He is excited to think of the varied audience it will receive there and feels happy that the piece has found a home. “I like the idea of my art being let go – going on to live its life in the world.”