Layered Potential, Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe 2018


Client: Sculpture by the Sea Org

Location: Cottesloe, Australia

Completion date: 2018

Artwork budget: $30,000

Project Team

Founding Director

David Handley

Sculpture by the Sea


Nikki Akbari



Created from hand painted polycarbonate, and assorted acrylic elements heat manipulated and constructed together, Layered Potential is a site-specific installation that explores the psychological state of the layering of ideas to arrive at new and unexpected conclusions. The figure and abstracted imagination forms are shown suspended between two large pine trees at Cottesloe Beach as part of the internationally renowned 2018 Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.

Materials: Acrylic, polycarbonate, paint, stainless steel cable and fixings, 2 trees
Measurements: (1 X Life Size Figure) + (Abstract elements between trees to cover 9m X 3m approx.)


Acrylic – which is a transparent and yet solid material that is able to be manipulated through heat, etched into, cut and joined drawing parallels to assumingly fixed ideas in the mind that have the inevitable fate of change.

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 two tall trees and the expanses of space in between, which act as structural supports to the installation. The artwork utilises the framing ability of the stunning clear backdrop of the sky which will highlight the overlapping shapes and colours of the Perspex elements suspended between the trees, capturing the light.

Layered Potential includes one life size figure ascending the trunk of the pine, she is depicted in a gesture of reaching out into the space beyond the tree and projecting shapes and colours, representative of the layering of ideas, into the space between the surrounding trees.


Elyssa Sykes-Smith applied through the official online application process, presenting a concept proposal to the exhibition selection jury. Once offered a position in the exhibition a final location was determined for the work. 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 site such, public safety and considerations surrounding potential artwork vandalism. The artwork was pre-fabricated in parts (polycarbonate was cut) at All Plastics Engineering, painted and constructed in main sections the artists studio and then delivered to the site. The installation process was treated as a public performance over two days, where the artwork elements were brought together and suspended the two trees with a team of installers. Engineering sign off was required. The exhibition was presented to the public for 15 days and received high visitation and positive response from the public, critics and the media.