Sculpture by the Sea’s Buried Rhino: artists offer iconic sculpture as gift to Sydney

The creators of the upside down rhino has been named Sculpture by the Sea’s official crowd favourite.

Having survived a king tide and powerful swells which threatened to carry it out to sea, the artistic creators of Sculpture by the Sea’s Buried Rhino have offered the installation as a gift to Sydney.

Gillie and Marc Schattner want their iconic fibreglass and steel sculpture to remain on Tamarama Beach as a playful public installation and powerful reminder of the precipitously endangered world population of rhinos.

And, if not in Tamarama, the creators are open to it living out its days in another prominent coastal location.

“Oh my god, it would be a dream come true if it could stay there as part of a permanent feature of Sculpture by the Sea for everyone to enjoy,” said Gillie, one half of the creative team, Gillie and Marc.

”In that tsunami of waves recently some sculptures got carried away and he was fine so that’s a good indication that he loves it there and we would love him to stay.”

On the exhibition’s final day Buried Rhino will be announced winner of the $5000 Allens People’s Choice and $3000 Kids’ Choice awards, as voted by the public, the third award for the artists who were behind one of last year’s event favourites, Flying Fish.

Waverley Council has yet to receive any formal offer but is open to an approach. “From time to time we have kept sculptures for a period of time and, of course, would consider any offer if it was made”, a spokesperson said.

The rhino sculpture arose from the couple’s determination to save the endangered animal from imminent extinction.

Should it stay or should it go? Creators of Buried Rhino at Tamarama Beach want to offer their work to Waverley Council. Photo: Steven Siewert

The couple are partners of the Australian Rhino Project, whose mission is to fly 80 African rhinos 11,000km from South Africa to South Australia, to establish an insurance population and ensure the survival of the species. On safari in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia at age seven, Gillie witnessed poachers kill a rhino and an elephant.

”That has just stuck in my brain forever, and it affected me my whole life and I wanted to do something and I felt this was the perfect opportunity,” she said.



Sculpture by the Sea’s Buried Rhino may live out his days at Tamarama beach. Photo: Mark Metcalfe

”We were going to build the biggest rhino sculpture in the world, and we were going to place it in the most popular place in Sydney and millions of people were going to see it, and it was going to send that message – ‘Save the rhinos, this is your chance to help’.”

The couple, multi-media artists who have worked side-by-side for 25 years since falling in love-at-first-sight and marrying seven days later, resorted to crowd funding to raise $25,000 of the $40,000 needed to construct the totemic conservation icon.

”It was a story of survival from day one,” said Marc. ”We made rhinos to give away as prizes, and two days before the deadline we got all the money in and there was a huge celebration. It was touch and go for a while there.”

Making the rhino was a huge engineering feat. An internal steel frame anchored by steel plates holds together the rhino head and the four splayed feet. The head is four metres long from neck to horn tip and eight metres from leg to head.

Waverley Council required the structure be reinforced with steel foundations. “There is nine tonnes of base steel underneath holding it into place,” Marc said.

”Effectively, you could have built the Empire State Building on our foundations. No joking, it took us two days.

”The whole beach was excavated to put in the foundations and we thought, ‘This is ridiculous. James Packer and Barangaroo should be building on this’. But thank god it happened because he stayed in place and the seas and the waters couldn’t touch him.”

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