Pandemic won’t flatten SWELL sculpture festival
The free, all-ages event attracts locals and visitors alike, as festivalgoers meander along the beach while engaging with dozens of larger-than-life pieces.
This year is no exception, with more than 50 large-scale artworks featured along Currumbin Beach.
While everyone continues to adjust to life amid COVID-19, the event’s executive team has made adjustments to ensure the festival is safe.
“We are thrilled to be connecting people, art and place, presenting a COVID-safe SWELL Sculpture Festival for visitors to enjoy,” SWELL artist director and curator Natasha Edwards says.
“It has been a rollercoaster 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.”
A number of changes have been made to this year’s SWELL event to make it COVID safe.
Sculptures will be strategically placed along the 1km stretch of Currumbin Beach to ensure appropriate social distancing while taking in the artworks.
Festival executive director Dee Steinfort says the fact SWELL is an open-air event is an advantage.
“We’re unique in that we’re an outdoor exhibition, so there’s lots of space for people to move around freely and enjoy the artworks,” Dee says.
Associated online events will also feature strongly this year.
Artists’ panels and interviews will be streamed online, while the SWELL Kids Elements program will offer free online sculptural workshops and fun events for children.
Tactile installations (with touchable surfaces) have also been removed from this year’s lineup.
SWELL supports professional, mid-career and emerging artists.
This year more than 30 per cent of the exhibition’s artists are new to the scene.
Regular exhibitors include professional artists Charlie Thrivers from Wamberal, NSW, who has 30 years’ experience as a sculptor.
Gold Coast local Clayton Blake, who frequently contributes work to Burning Man in the US and is known for adapting everyday objects into impressive architectural applications, will also feature at SWELL this year.
Victorian artist Jasmine Mansbridge, known for a colourful mural on Johnston Street in Collingwood and large-scale installations at the National Gallery of Victoria, has created a 150kg, two-metre square prism, which was transported to SWELL in five pieces.
“We have a wonderful selection of artists coming from Queensland and across the country to showcase their work,” Dee says.
For the first time ever, this year’s festival will include two pop-up exhibitions outside of Currumbin: northerlySWELL at Helensvale and westerlySWELL at Mudgeeraba.
The northerlySWELL exhibition at the Mudgeeraba Village Green features a number of works from local and national artists, while the westerlySWELL at Helensvale Library showcases Indigenous artist Luther Cora’s new sculpture depicting the mullet season and a time of abundance.
The pop-up exhibitions are free, open to all ages and run until September 20.
Dust Temple at Currumbin will also host SWELL Smalls – an exhibition of more than 30 smaller-scale works, complemented by a program of creative events and masterclasses.