PERTH - It is just a five-hour flight away from Singapore, but Perth's hosting of a beachside sculpture festival is giving an arty twist to the sleepy town Singaporeans think they know very well.
Cottesloe Beach, a strip of sandy paradise in a western suburb of the Australian city, is now dotted with some 74 sculptures by Australian and international artists.
These include a gigantic 33,000-litre wine carrier made of reflective PVC, pairs of cast-glass feet perched on rocks, a flower made of stainless steel that sways in the wind and an installation of 8,000 red and yellow mini flags.
Visitors - all 220,000 of them for the three-week Sculpture By The Sea on till March 24 - are encouraged to touch and interact with most of the sculptures.
They include Australian artist Geoffrey Drake-Brockman's Solar Jayne, a solar-activated cast marble body mould of dancer Jayne Smeulders of the West Australian Ballet, which pirouettes prettily when visitors press a button; and Belgian-born Perth-based artist Annette Thas' Wave 1, a sculpture of blonde Barbie dolls lying tangled on an aluminium-shaped wave, under which beachgoers catch some shade.
There is also American artist Peter Lundberg's Adam And Eve sculpture of cast bronze, looking very much like contemporary monkey bars.
Each visitor "works" on the sculpture, says Mr Scott Brandon Smith, 52, a helper at Sculpture By The Sea. "Each human contact polishes rough bronze, revealing a smooth surface underneath," he explains.
The annual non-profit sculpture festival is in its 10th year in Perth. Former corporate lawyer David Handley founded the festival on Sydney's Bondi Beach in 1997 and the Perth version followed in 2005.
The Australian first mooted the idea when he visited an outdoor sculpture park, set among 13th-century ruins near the town of Klatovy, while living in Prague in the early 1990s.
Mr Handley, 48, who now runs the festival full-time, says: "I love the idea of large community arts events, such as listening to a symphony under the stars or to opera in the park."
The idea took shape when friends suggested he take a stroll on Sydney's Bondi Beach, where he saw "natural plinth after natural plinth, upon which sculptures of all descriptions could be installed", he adds.