Japanese artist Roy Hiroyuki Kita has claimed the $50,000 top prize at Sculpture by the Sea.

Kita, one of a record nine Japanese artists on show at Cottesloe, has won the inaugural Roy Hill Sculpture Prize for his kinetic steel work Like a Flower Swaying in the Wind.

The award was announced at the opening of the annual free exhibition today.

The Roy Hill Sculpture Prize, offered by Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting, is now one of Australia’s top sculpture awards and among the most lucrative art awards in the State.

Kita said the wind from the sea completed his sculpture, which sits on the Cottesloe groyne, and he was very happy to receive the award.

He said he had appeared in Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe and Bondi eight times previously without award success, although he had sold some works.

“I have had no luck so I didn’t think I would win,” he said through an interpreter. “I have had some awards in Japan but not overseas.”

He felt like an invader snatching the award from the many local artists.

“The reason I keep coming back to Australia is that you have really good wind. I am from Kyoto which is very far from the seaside.”

Two artists were joint winners of the WA Sculptor Scholarship, splitting the $10,000 prize for the first time in the 10-year history of Sculpture by the Sea.

Lake Grace artist Kerrie Argent, who won the People’s Choice-Kids’ Choice double in 2010, shared the award with Elaine Clocherty, of Cowaramup.

They also received an invitation to exhibit at Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi later this year.

The judging panel comprised National Art School head of art history and theory Michael Hill, leading WA sculptor Lou Lambert and gallerist Julienne Penny.

“Kita’s kinetic work unites far and near views,” Dr Hill said.

“A beautiful prospect is offered from a distance, with curved and polished stainless steel glinting in the sunlight atop a robust yellow beam. Up close, the sculpture reveals precision crafting and subtle details of colour.”

Ms Penny said the judges had been unable to split Argent and Clocherty as the WA winners.

“The judges were impressed at the standard of work from the WA artists,” she said.

Argent’s work Overconsumption uses 185,000 plastic ties and 80,000 bottle tops to create five great mountains of garbage spanning 10m.

Clocherty’s seaweed-and-shells artwork Overnight recalls a huge seaweed dump that closed Cottesloe Beach in October 2012. She plans to return her work to the ocean at the end of the exhibition.

The pair are among 28 WA artists on show at Cottesloe, which is expected to attract about 220,000 visitors to see a total of 74 sculptures in the State’s biggest outdoor art exhibition.

One of the other Japanese sculptors is Keizo Ushio, who joins WA artist Ron Gomboc as an inductee in the Decade Club, which recognises those who have taken part in the exhibition at Cottesloe every year since the event began in 2005.

Sculpture by the Sea closes on Monday, March 24.

The West Australian

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