Caught Between Comprehension, First Prize, Hillview Sculpture Biennale 2018


Client: Hillview Sculpture Biennale

Location: Bowral, Australia

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $25,000

Project Team


Axel Arnott

Hillview Sculpture


David Ball

Hillview Sculpture


Caught between Comprehension is a large-scale, site-specific installation created from recycled timber. The artwork explores the emotive, psychological process of being caught in a state of confusion with another person. Elyssa Sykes-Smith received the joint First Prize award.


The natural environment sets the platform for this psychological narrative to manifest physically and visually. This narrative is dynamically woven into the landscape around the four tall trees which act as structural supports to the installation framing the stunning clear backdrop of the sky which will highlight the overlapping shapes and silhouetted elements suspended between the trees. This installation aims to intrigue the viewer, inviting them into the space to walk around and under the sculptural elements, slowing down the experience of viewing an artwork and offering a different perspective on the site.

Caught between Comprehension includes two figures ascending the tree trunks into the space between the surrounding trees. The installation will be constructed from an assortment of timber in an interconnected mass, both visually chaotic and structurally interwoven. Abstract timber forms stretch between the figures, trees and space in between, linking the elements. A new space is created, a symbolically weighted abstract environment in which the two protagonists find themselves attempting to navigate.


Elyssa Sykes-Smith went through the official online application process to participate in the exhibition which was assessed by the exhibition curatorial panel. Once Sykes-Smith was accepted into the show she was encouraged to create a site-specific installation at a site of her choosing at the Hillview Park. This process entailed working in collaboration with the exhibition team to plan and install the artwork. A thorough site-visit was required to plan the artwork which included taking photos, videos and measurements of the site, and discussing the limitations regarding fixing elements to the trees, public safely and vandalism possibilities. The artwork was pre-fabricated in the artists studio in many sections and then delivered to the site. The installation process was treated as a public performance over 4 days, where the artwork was constructed onsite with a team of installers. Engineering sign off was required. The exhibition was presented to the public for 30 days and received high visitation and positive response from the public, critics and the media.

Additional Information

Poem: Together. We are Held still In suspense Together. We tread Carefully, considerately, cautiously Toward the other Together. We learn, are torn, are worn Histories and habits Transform simple reality Together. We are caught between comprehension Our shared space A counter balanced confusion Together… We try And only find an inability to define This place, your space, my space - Elyssa Sykes-Smith