David Handley AM

Founding Director, Sculpture by the Sea

Hear from Founding Director, David Handley, about the evloution of Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi as he joins the panel for 'From Studio to Clifftop: insights into the artists and process behind Sculpture by the Sea'.

At the age of 31 David founded  Sculpture by the Sea in 1997 as a one day exhibition staffed by volunteers working from his lounge room.  Within three years the exhibition  had grown to be the largest annual sculpture exhibition in the world featuring 100 sculptures by artists from around the world whose works transform the spectacular 2km Bondi beach coastal walk into a sculpture park that is now viewed by an estimated 500,000 visitors over 18 days in spring each year. 

In 1998 David was commissioned to produce a series of five Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions around Australia for the Sydney Olympic Arts Festival ‘A Sea Change’. Since this time David and his team have produced a number of major outdoor exhibitions, notably Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe in Perth on the West Australian coast that has been held annually since 2005, growing to attract 220,000 visitors to view 70 sculptures by artists from across the world. 

A substantial community benefit that has grown out of Sculpture by the Sea in Sydney and Perth are the public sculpture collections of works acquired from the free to the public exhibitions. Prime locations that are now home to permanent sculptures include in NSW: the Royal Botanic Gardens; Georges Heights; Campbelltown City Gallery; and Orange Regional Gallery.  Public collections in WA include: The Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Town of Cottesloe.

In 2009 the first international edition of Sculpture by the Sea was staged in the City of Aarhus, Denmark under the patronage of TRH Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.  The Denmark exhibition was also staged in 2011, 2013 and 2015.  An estimated 500,000 visitors visited the Aarhus exhibition in 2015.

In 2003 David oversaw the establishment of Sculpture by the Sea Incorporated as a not for profit entity to manage the Australian Sculpture by the Sea exhibitions. 

He has served on a number of boards including as a Trustee of the Australian Museum (2002 – 2010) and the USA based International Sculpture Centre (2008 - 2011).  

In addition to Sculpture by the Sea, David’s other not-for-profit project is the ‘Shane Gould Swimming Project’ in Fiji, where together with Shane Gould and her husband Milt Nelms, they have initiated a community drowning prevention program to help overcome the high rate of accidental drowning in Fiji.

Speaker’s event