The Arresting Properties of Zip Ties (Sculpture by the Sea Cottesloe)


When I think about cable ties, or zip ties as some people call them, a few things come to mind. Some positive, some negative but none worthy of a $10,000 scholarship. But that’s exactly what happened at Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2019.

copyright Glennys Marsdon

First invented in 1958 by electric company Thomas and Betts, employer Maurus C. Logan, they were initially employed as airplane wire harnesses. Made from nylon the flexible ties have grown from their humble beginnings into an almost indispensable part of modern life.

At the end of last year I was amazed to watch thousands upon thousands of black zip ties be used during the recent Ozone New Years Eve concert at Langley Park. The speed with which the installers used the ties to secure metres of promotional banners around the perimeter of the venue was impressive. Meanwhile the blue ties contain a metal additive, so they can be easily detected while used in the food industry. Then of course there are the PlastiCuffs.

A plethora of television police dramas have educated us about the arresting properties of zip ties. Within seconds a criminal is lying prostrate on the ground, hands secured behind his back by the black ties. Sadly, the same shows have also highlighted their application by the odd psychopath or two.

Given this perhaps you can imagine the reaction Ardross and Canning Vale residents Rima Zabaneh and Berenice Rarig received, when they took trip after trip to purchase 70,000 zip ties. The sellers must have had many a sleepless night about their customers intensions. No doubt there were several discussions about not closing up alone late at night. Perhaps the innocent white colour of the ties gave them some reassurance.

Little did they know that the two unassuming ladies would use the ties to comment on the potential to reuse items beyond their original purpose. Their message was clearly demonstrated by the white and purple coral shaped Pods, currently on show as part of Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe 2019. The shop owners, if they haven’t already, will be pleasantly surprised when they see the innocent outcome.

Even more surprised were the two artists when Deputy Chairman of Tourism WA, Manny Papadoulis announced they’d won the prestigious $10,000 Western Australian Sculptor Scholarship.

copyright Glennys Marsdon

“I’m covered in goose bumps, even in this heat,” said Berenice Rarig, later adding, “each one is individual. The final shape was a collaboration between us and the material. We think with our fingers and our brain catches up.”

Donated by Gavin Bunning & Julienne Penny since 2013, the scholarship provides invaluable support for the advancement of the artist’s career, including the opportunity to travel and study their craft. It also includes an invitation to exhibit at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2019.

Bernice added, “Being in the exhibition has always been on my bucket list but I was too afraid to try. This collaboration gave us the courage to exhibit. Sculpture by the Sea gives room for every type of sculptural practice no matter your medium, it’s a welcoming invitation to create. We feel so honoured to have received this award.”

Founding Director of Sculpture by the Sea, David Handley said, “I was absolutely delighted to hear Rima and Bernice were chosen to receive the WA Sculptor Scholarship. Their work takes you by surprise and after a double take you realise it is simply stunning.”

Rima Zabaneh and Berenice Rarig “Pods” – photo by Clyde Yee.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Sculpture by the Sea, Cottesloe, which is Perth’s largest free to the public event, attracting an estimated 240,000 visitors to explore the art.

Over 70 sculptures are on display from a broad range of West Australian and interstate artists, as well as a large gathering of international artists from USA, Israel, China, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Greece and Andorra.

In addition to acclaimed international artists, the exhibition shines a spotlight on works by some of WA’s leading sculptors including Anne Neil, Stephen Tepper, Alessandra Rossi, Miik Green, Ron Gomboc, Jennifer Cochrane, Tim Macfarlane Reid, Tony Davis as well as leading emerging artists from Western Australia such as April Pine, Britt Mikkelsen and Jina Lee.

While many of the pieces are priced in the thousands, the Pods are for sale individually and are priced from $1,000 to $3,000.

Sculptures by the Sea, Cottesloe 2019, is on until March 18.

Don’t forget to visit the Sculptures Inside exhibition for smaller pieces. There’s also the Tactile Tours and the Community Inclusion Tour. The popular Beach Access days are on the 13th and 14th of March when special matting is installed. The free shuttle bus, the Cott Cat, is operating again this year from the train station.

For more information go to


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