A new city of artists in town

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RECYCLING was a way of life growing up in Dwellingup for sculptor/artist Len Zuks.

It’s something the Cockburn local carried through to his almost 50-year career as an artist, with his sculptures crafted from recycled material.

So coming up with an work for Cockburn council’s inaugural Future Generation… Renewable Energy public art prize wasn’t a big ask.

Zuks is one of eight artists submitting works showcasing visions for a sustainable future.

They hail from a diverse background and include musician-turned-artist Laura Mitchell, sculptor Fleur Marron, Malaysian-born Calvin Chee, retired art teacher Nancy Boswell, architect April Davison, sustainability artist Sarah Wilkinson and health worker Lisa Dymond.

The submitted works are miniatures: Following judging the winner will be commissioned to create a larger-than-life version, to be installed at the Cockburn Memorial Hall at the corner of Rockingham Road and Carrington Street.

Zuks won the people’s choice prize in the 2009 Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea for his recycled steel and rubber sculpture of five emus.

The UWA academic was part of the beijing Biennale two years in a row—and carries an invite to the next one.

One of seven kids growing up in the 1950s, money was tight so the Zuks brood would raid the local rubbish tip: “We found wheels, rope, and made things that went down hills,” he says of his childhood billy-carts.

Art came naturally to the son of Latvian immigrants and from as young as five he couldn’t understand why classmates’ drawings bore little resemblance to their subjects while his were accurate representations—albeit childlike.

“I was the one recognised as an artist. I could replicate things around me.”

Marron has a professional background in renewable energy and greenhouse management and her art encourages people to reflect on the health of the natural environment.

Retired teacher and grandmother Boswell took the challenge because of the fun in creating something meaningful, and to use the language of sculpture to express an idea in the wider world.

“I can speak of my hope for social change to support a world even more beautiful than the one we live in now, especially for my grandchildren.”

Wilkinson is interested in human interactions, cultural memory and sustainability and says her colourful piece connects a renewable energy future with youth.

The art competition comes hot on the heels of Cockburn taking out an award for being Australia’s most sustainable city.

Cockburn is one of two top cities Australia-wide installing solar panels.

It may be a small step to a clean energy future, but  it’s an important one, if Australia is to meet its renewable energy targets for 2020, says mayor Logan Howlett.

The art prize winner was set to be announced yesterday, Friday, May 31.



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