Top ten must-see sculptures at this year’s SWELL Sculpture Festival
It’s back, baby! SWELL Sculpture Festival is widely regarded as one of the Queensland’s premier art events and it has kicked off for another cracking year! Transforming Currumbin’s beautiful beaches and fabulous foreshore into an eclectic open-air gallery, this year the festival features more than 65 different works to celebrate 19 incredible years with a jam-packed line-up of installations, events, art workshops and live music. While we strongly recommend carving out a solid chunk of time to view all of the amazing pieces, if you’re pressed for time – here’s our pick of ten must-see installations …
The Guardian by Mike Van Dam
The Guardian is undoubtedly one of the more imposing sculptures among this year’s line-up. Standing at an impressive 3.8-m high, the stainless-steel chain sculpture watches and protects those walking along Currumbin Beach. Inspired by a combination of events in the artist’s life, including COVID-19 and the passing of his father, the piece embodies strength in an uncertain world in these uncertain times. Incredibly, Mike is a sheetmetal worker by trade and attended SWELL more than 10 years ago as a spectator and was inspired to give it a crack. Since then, Mike has had several pieces in SWELL as well as galleries, private collections and on display in Australia and overseas.
Delimitation by Russell Solomon and Blair Garland
As we wade through these ‘unprecedented times’, plastic road barriers have become part of our lives and a pertinent symbol of division. Delimitation by Russell Solomon and Blair Garland aims to provoke more conversations and questions around the moral dilemmas we as a society grapple with around border walls and border fences – both the positive and negative – keeping ‘us’ safe while dividing families and communities. This one is guaranteed to make you feel all of the things.
Ulysses’ Shipwreck by Irene Messia
This is definitely one of those ‘if you know, you know’ pieces. Ulysses’ Shipwreck represents a journey of self-discovery inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, where Ulysses ponders who he is, where he has come from and where he is going. This piece by Irene Messia represents the journey of a being, an internal journey that we must all take in our lives to find our true selves. To find what we cannot see on the surface.
Standing Wave 2 by John Nesirky
It’s a pretty weird time in the world right about now. The global pandemic has altered lives and even vocabulary – with isolation, lockdowns, and social distancing now part of our everyday vernacular. This piece by John Nesirky aims to reclaim the word ‘wave’ as something beautiful and ever-changing. A symbol of hope, rather than disease. If you’re looking to explore SWELL after dark, put this one at the top of your list!
Evanescent by Atelier Sisu
If you’re in or around Chevron Island, this one is part of EasterlySWELL. Evanescent by Atelier Sisu is a vibrant light and sound artwork that presents a series of spheres lit from within. The iridescent bubbles change colour and are choreographed to a reactive soundscape. Aiming to connect viewers with their surroundings, Atelier Sisu has put the transient qualities of a bubble on show, leaving the viewer to ponder impermanence and the ever-changing human experience. And here you were thinking it was just pretty lights and sounds.
Sway by Shiloh Perry
A calming sea of paper cranes, this installation is inspired by the Japanese legend – ‘Senbazuru’ – which says that if you fold 1000 origami cranes in one year, your wish is granted. When COVID-19 hit, Shiloh’s event business took a turn for the worst. During the quiet time, Shiloh began reconnecting with her creative side and started folding. The process has become an exercise in mindfulness and stopping to focus on a simple moment. It’s hoped that the installation will be the same for those who view it.
The Spiral of Life by Melissa Carey
This particular piece has attracted attention thanks to its mesmerising helical spiral form. For Melissa Carey, the artist behind the impressive piece, everything comes back to the spiral – it’s in our nature and DNA. It represents the flow of energy and connection.
Homer Homer by Danger Dave
The giant, 5-m-high inflatable head amalgamates a legendary ancient storyteller with arguably the great comic creation of our time – the one and only – Homer Simpson. This unique piece is located at northerlySWELL and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.
Passing Through by Rae Saheli
Some artists use brushes to make art, Rae Saheli prefers a 12-gauge shotgun. Rae fired over a hundred rounds of ammunition at the aluminium used to create this sculpture, creating a distinctive pattern for light to pass through. The piece is explosive, unique and dynamic and is a must on your SWELL tour.
Coral Fluorescence by Nadine Schmoll
This pertinent and thought provoking piece explores the impact of plastic waste and climate change on our marine environment. The translucent coral polyps shine with fluorescence at night, a phenomenon some corals use to protect themselves from rising sea temperatures. Coral Fluorescence is inspired by nature’s amazing ability to adapt and be resilient in the face of environmental challenges.
Folks, that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’s so much to see and do at this year’s SWELL Sculpture Festival, which takes place across multiple venues from September 10–19. Take a peek at all of the happenings here.
Image 1: The Spiral Of Life, Melissa Carey, Lex Imagery
Image 2: Delimitation, Russell Solomon and Blair Garland, PBRImages
Image 3: Standing Wave, John Nesirky, Lex Imagery
Image 4: The Guardian, Michael Van Dam, Lex Imagery
Image 5: Passing Through, Rae Saheli, Lex Imagery
Image 6: Ulysses Shipwreck, Irene Massia, Lex Imagery
Image 7: Sway, ShilohPerry, Lex Imagery