Barbie dolls ride wave of success
Artist Annette Thas with her Scuplture By The Sea Peoples Choice and Kids Choice awards. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

A 15m-high goon bag may have been the piece that got people talking at this year's Sculpture by the Sea but it was an artwork featuring another cultural icon - Barbie - that truly won over the public.

Belgian-born Perth artist Annette Thas was named winner of the people's choice award and one of two kids' choice winners for her wave sculpture made from about 5000 blonde Barbie dolls.

Cars were banked up along Marine Terrace yesterday in search of a parking spot as people headed to Cottesloe for a last look at the exhibition.

Final numbers for this year's exhibition will not be confirmed until today but are estimated at 220,000 - on par with last year's record-breaking crowds.

Funding director David Handley said organisers were "very pleased". He also said there were signs that Perth's late-night visitors to the area were "maturing".

"While there have been some late-night issues with three works damaged or . . . removed presumed stolen, we could not have staged an exhibition with these works in the earlier years of the show," he said.

"The larrikins and larrikinesses of Perth would have found certain works too appealing.

"This is one of the great advantages of the makeover of the Cott Hotel and we believe a maturing of the Perth after-dark visitors."

Mr Handley also stressed the need for continuing sponsorship.

"Happily for the first time in three years we have made budget, but this is a budget which is well short of what is required to cover the artists' freight and installation costs," he said.

"Out of fairness to the artists and to grow the exhibition, these funds need to be secured."

An overwhelmed Ms Thas said the sculpture had taken seven weeks of full-time work "just to tie the dolls into the frame". She had to get used dolls from second-hand shops around the State.

"It's first and foremost an artwork on memory and memory of childhood," she said.

"It's such an iconic image people are going to have a relationship with it wherever in the world it's exhibited."

Ms Thas received $2500 for the people's choice award and $2000 for the kids' choice award.

Alejandro Propato won the other kids' choice award for his work using aluminium pipes and steel wire to create a "permanent sunset".

Sculpture by the Sea ends today.

The West Australian

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