At the end of a road in a vineyard, a massive Inge King sculpture stands at the entrance leading the visitor into a stunning curved space with a bottle tree in the middle. Inside is a wine bar and ticket office. Beyond a sculpture park with works by prominent local and international sculptors.
Pt Leo Estate is a private sculpture park on a vineyard on the Mornington Peninsula. It plays its part in attracting visitors to the vineyard, where the sales at the cellar door would be worth more than the ticket sales to the sculpture park.
It is a collection interested in prestige, and showing off the collection is part of the reason for having it. Although the sculpture park was only established in 2017, the wealthy owners had collected sculptures for decades before. It consists of a standard set of notable international and local sculptors, Julian Opie’s White Horse, an Anthony Gormley behind the ticket desk, and some of the familiar names in the history of Australian sculpture. About half a dozen sculptures by Robbert Kippel stand amongst a grove of trees.
However, Inge King and Deborah Halpern are the only women in a collection dominated by male sculptors. It reflects the owners. It is a rich man’s collection. Bright colours, surreal creations, pop sensations, elegant forms and plenty of figurative pieces. Unlike public collections, there is no obligation for a private collector to have a broad or representative.
The sculptures have some magnificent borrowed scenery, with views of Phillip Island and the entrance to Western Port Bay. There are two well-laid and comfortable walking trails around the park, a smaller loop and a longer one. The formal park setting with its mown lawns, clipped hedges and even tufted grass cut into cones. The sculptures are plonked in this landscape. At best, the landscape manipulated around them, a grove of trees or a pond. This is to be expected for modern sculptures. The modern world imposed itself on everything, but the setting doesn’t bring out the best in contemporary sculpture which are often more site specific.
Modern sculptures attempt to control the landscape by extending form into space. Fabricated metal forms framing views. This can be seen in Vega by local sculptor Lenton Parr. In this sculpture, Parr is influenced by his contemporary, the British sculptor Anthony Caro. And the influence of Caro is evident in several other sculptures in the park, including Robertson-Swann, and Michael Le Grand.
The collection is not without humour or a sense of fun. There is Richard Tipping’s sign, Private poetry , and an Erwin Wurm fat car. Neither of these works can be taken as serious or political; in the luxury surroundings, they can only be taken as ironic. Les Kossatz’s sculptures are often humorous and political; however, Laban’s seal III makes vague references to contested land through obscure Biblical references.
The highlight for me was the pond with Adrian Muriks’ Impulse. Two of the sculptural elements are floating like masses of soap bubbles, one a duck-like form, moving around depending on the wind and creating an ever-changing scene. His white biomorphic forms are joyful and fun.
I’m not sure why I resisted tasting and reviewing the estate’s wine, perhaps sticking to my actual area of expertise.