6 × 6 × 6” Miniature Sculpture Show

Returning for a twenty-second iteration after a pandemic closure in 2021, Defiance Gallery’s 6 × 6 × 6” Miniature Sculpture Show shows Australia’s most renowned sculptors at working to small scale in playful, pensive, and often puckish ways.

The Miniature Sculpture Show has hosted a staggering number of artists since its first iteration in 1996, held at the original Defiance Gallery premises in Newtown. The gallery’s aim, for twenty-six years, has been to develop a greater public understanding of the place of sculpture in contemporary Australian art, and the Miniature Sculpture Show has been an integral part of this project – exhibiting, over the years, works by artists including Robert Klippel, Philip King, Oliffe Richmond, Alex Seton, Clement Meadmore, Peter Powditch, Jan King, Linde Ivimey, Tom Arthur, Alun Leach-Jones, Ingrid Morley, Tim Kyle, Clara Hali, Laurence Edwards, Lea Ferris, Paul Higgs, Ron Robertson-Swann, James Rogers, and Paul Selwood.

Alongside their vision for the public reception of sculpture, the team at Defiance have also distinguished themselves through a focus on what a gallery can offer artists, both in terms of financial support and creative development. It is with artists and their living in mind that gallery director Campbell Robertson-Swann says, “One of the frustrating things to me about sculpture had always been the frustration of setting up an exhibition and then taking it down with no sales. I knew it was a threat to people, sculpture taking up a space, so I came up with the concept of small works . . . People started buying them; they had them on their desk, on their coffee tables. They would look at them subliminally – and after a few years of it being a very successful show, and the miniatures selling really well, we checked the books and nearly everyone that bought a small work went on to buy larger works. It opened up two avenues: one for the public and the other for the sculptors themselves.”

This year’s show includes around 150 works by over seventy artists. Audiences might catch a glimpse of Kendal Murray’s scuba-suited man emerging out of the ocean inside a small mirror compact, Clara Hali’s bronze figure curled into a ball, weighty in its simplicity, or Felix Fenely’s tiny bust on a tinier plinth. An invitation-only exhibition, the show is an occasion for artists to experiment with new ways of making, and to refine their own technical vernacular and vision in a scale at which few would usually work. As to how this scale was decided on, Robertson-Swann explains that he worked with “Harry Nicolson and other sculptors to determine the scale of of how small could a sculpture be. We finally got to a point of asking what was a sculpture, what was a maquette, and what was jewellery – and the major consensus was [to exhibit] works within nine inches. I wanted to push it further, make it more challenging, so I pushed it further to works within six inches.”

With support from sponsors including the Nock Art Foundation, the Cat Clinic courtesy of Kim Kendall and John Linquist, and John Normyle’s Maffra Residency, this iteration of the Miniature Sculpture Show continues at Defiance Gallery’s Mary Place space until 20 December. 

6 × 6 × 6” Miniature Sculpture Show 2022
10–20 December 2022
Defiance Gallery, Sydney

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