It's a long way from fancy Sydney art openings to a dusty workshop in South Nowra.
But it's from such a workshop that multi-award winning Illawarra sculptor Michael Purdy creates his masterpieces.
His latest, Spinal Column, has been unveiled for this year's Sculpture by the Sea, which opened yesterday in one of Sydney's trendiest areas - the coast between Bondi and Tamarama.
Purdy lives at Brogers Creek, inland from Gerringong, and makes his chunky, masculine works in a factory environment tucked into the Flinders Industrial Estate in Nowra.
When he needs someone to bounce his ideas off, he turns to neighbouring businesses.
"I think the boys here have a really good eye because of their involvement in my work over the years," said Purdy, who originally trained as a landscape architect.
The artist describes the arrangement as a perfect marriage, and said he was grateful for the technical assistance of these experts, most significantly Jay Baker, who owns JG Baker Abrasive Blasting.
Purdy said the event suited the egalitarian ethos of his work environment.
"It's an incredibly inclusive exhibition - people come who would never go into a gallery. It's not just arty-farty people," he said. "I think it's a great compliment that ordinary people like my work."
This year he is showing a monumental work made from Appin sandstone with a cast iron and steel base. He describes it as expressing "the wildness that comes from escaping from the box - it begins all tight and zipped up and ends up wild and unconstrained".
This is the seventh year Purdy's work has been selected. In 2004 he won the coveted People's Choice Award.
South Coast Register