7 August, 2020

Artists prepare their sculptures for installation at SWELL Sculpture Festival.

SWELL Sculpture Festival Wave Within by Sandra Pitkin. Image: Tony Scott

Creatives on the Gold Coast, and around the country, are preparing their artworks for Queensland’s biggest outdoor art show – SWELL Sculpture Festival, taking place on Currumbin Beach in September.

The outdoor sculpture exhibition, which sees more than 50 artworks transform the beautiful 1km stretch of beach into an outdoor art gallery, runs from September 11 to 20.

SWELL Sculpture Festival Artist Director and Curator, Natasha Edwards, says the executive team have made changes in the planning, and this year the event is shaping up to be better than ever.

We are thrilled to be connecting people, art and place, presenting a COVID safe SWELL Sculpture Festival for visitors to enjoy.  It has been a roller coaster ride this year and the whole world has felt the stress of the pandemic. We’ve come to realise in times like these getting outdoors, creating – and enjoying – art is more important than ever.

SWELL Sculpture Festival Executive Director, Dee Steinfort, adds:

We have a wonderful selection of artists coming from Queensland and across the country to showcase their work. We’re also unique in that we’re an outdoor exhibition, so there’s lots of space for people to move around freely and enjoy the artworks.

Changes taking place at this year’s event – to make it COVID safe – include:

  • Physical distancing: Placement of sculptures to encourage an easy pedestrian flow through the 1km stretch of beach, allowing visitors to view the sculptures at leisure while maintaining physical distance.
  • Digital capabilities: New online artist panels and interviews to be streamed
  • Removal of tactile installations: Instead of an interactive sculpture park onsite this year the SWELL Kids Elements program will offer free online sculptural workshops for children as well as sculpture hunt adventures and more.

SWELL supports professional, mid-career and emerging artists. Regular exhibitors include professional artist and Gold Coast local Clayton Blake, who is known for adapting everyday objects into impressive architectural applications and also frequently contributes work at Burning Man in the US and Sculpture by the Sea, Sydney. Charlie Thrivers is a professional artist who resides in Wamberal, NSW – with 30 years’ experience as a sculptor and has previously exhibited at SWELL, Sculptures by the Sea and Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale in Japan.

Meanwhile, over 30 percent of this year’s artists are emerging as they bravely explore their sculpture journey.

Tourism Minister Kate Jones said events like SWELL Sculpture Festival would play an important role in the state’s economic recovery.

Major events like this pump thousands of dollars back into the local businesses, support local jobs and help to rebuild our economy. This event will deliver a great boost for local businesses at a time when everyone is doing it tough. The Gold Coast is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit and SWELL gives visitors another reason to book a trip.

Now in its 18th year SWELL’s signature 10-day exhibition in Currumbin, Queensland, showcases thought-provoking sculptures from the monumental to the minuscule. This is complemented by a rich and exciting program of live events and masterclasses delivered in a space dedicated to small-scale sculptures – the SWELL Smalls Gallery and pop-up exhibition throughout the Gold Coast.

Extending the footprint of the event by connecting the points of the sculptural compass at northern, southern and western areas of the Gold Coast, this year the event will showcase two popup exhibitions – northerlySWELL with renowned Indigenous living legend Luther Cora’s new sculpture depicting the mullet season and a time of abundance, at Helensvale Cultural Precinct & Library; and westerlySWELL will see sculptures by local and national artists popping up in Mudgeeraba Village Green. Both installations take place from September 1 to 20.

The SWELL Smalls Gallery will host a rich and exciting program of live events, including visual arts and literacy masterclasses, live music, spoken word experiences and creative culinary adventures.

Artists at this year’s festival are in the running to share $27,500 in prize money, with the major winner to take home $15,000 in cash.

This year’s award categories include the SWELL Sculpture Award, Emerging Artist Award, Environmental Awareness Award, Artist Peer Award (voted for by artists), and the People’s Choice, and SWELL Smalls Gallery People’s Choice awards (all voted for by exhibition visitors).

More than $45,000 in artist subsidies will also be distributed to help creatives deliver their sculptures.

The 10-day SWELL Sculpture Festival will bring a celebratory atmosphere of artistic expression to the foreshore of Currumbin Beach in a COVID safe manner.

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate said:

SWELL is one of the great events on our annual calendar and it is wonderful to see it going ahead this year despite everything going on in the world. Its unique outdoor location will allow us all to enjoy the city’s growing arts and culture offerings in a COVID-safe way

Jan McCormick, CEO, Major Events Gold Coast added:

The outdoor art gallery of sculptured works is a sight to behold and we invite everyone to come and stay a few nights to fully enjoy the SWELL experience at Currumbin Beach

Sculpture: Wave Within by Sandra Pitkin. Image: Tony Scott