NZ artist wins Sculpture by the Sea prize

New Zealand artist Morgan Jones has won the Sculpture by the Sea prize.
New Zealand artist Morgan Jones has won the Sculpture by the Sea prize.

New Zealand artist Morgan Jones has won the top prize worth $70,000 at Sydney's Sculpture by the Sea amid doubts about the future of the popular annual event.

Jones' sculpture, The Sun Also Rises, is made of corten steel with the Biblical title coming from the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes.

The 85-year-old artist, who was born in England and emigrated to New Zealand in 1955, joked he had plenty of kilometres in his legs as he accepted the prize on Thursday.

"Thus proving the older you get as a sculptor, the better you get as a sculptor," Jones told reporters.

"You can get forget about what I think it means or how anyone else is going to interpret its meaning - it's an elegant, I hope, display of shapes and forms."

Jones started sculpting in the early 1960s after he enjoyed assembling a centreboard dinghy made of plywood and fibreglass for his children.

The two-kilometre exhibition along the Bondi to Tamarama coastal walk, which runs until November 10, features more than 100 sculptures.

It could be the last exhibition in Bondi after a spectacular falling out between organisers and the local council over a new path to improve disabled access.

Sculpture by the Sea director David Handley said the future of the event remained uncertain after a five-year contract renewal offered by Waverley Council was rejected.

"Going forward, we'll make a decision around February or March as to what we're doing.

"We'll see how the artists and public respond to this. There's a new mayor and she's already made some great gestures which have been fantastic."

Mr Handley said the free public event - launched in 1997 - had been looking at alternative locations since July and could potentially move interstate.

"We need the right relations (to continue) ... because we set the stage for the artists to play upon and if we don't know what the stage is, we can't do our job."

Waverley mayor Paula Masselos on Thursday said she was "delighted to continue to offer our iconic coastal walk ... and our community headland park as the setting for this event".

"With regards to council's accessible pathway at Marks Park, we have a responsibility to our different stakeholders and an obligation to our residents to provide facilities and infrastructure," Ms Masselos said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press