David Handley (BA ’87 LLB ’89)

Community Achievement

David Handley

When David Handley founded Sculpture by the Sea 16 years ago, it was a one-day show that he had to underwrite by putting up his own apartment as security. The public sculpture exhibition has grown into one of Australia’s iconic cultural events, and his achievement has been recognised as a co-winner of an Alumni Award for Community Achievement.

The three-week exhibition, which runs in spring each year along the Bondi to Tamarama Coastal Walk, attracts up to 500,000 visitors, has an international reputation and is considered a major tourism beacon that is now promoted by the NSW Government major events group. Similar exhibitions have now been mounted in Cottesloe, Western Australia and Aarhus, Denmark.

David, who graduated with arts and law degrees in 1989, found his inspiration while working as a lawyer in Prague.

He had always loved free public events but didn’t know how to channel that enthusiasm until he found a sculpture park in Prague where contemporary works were set among medieval ruins. “Suddenly, I understood the theatricality of sculpture,” he told an interviewer.

Aided by volunteers, David scraped together the money to put on Sculpture by the Sea as a one-day show, and with media – but no government – support, the exhibition continued to grow in popularity. It now includes works by major international sculptors.