12th Annual Swell Sculpture Festival attracts record crowd

25 September 2014
BY LYDIA COLLINS DONLON

Over the past two weeks more than 215,000 people travelled to the Currumbin foreshore to get involved with the 12th Annual Swell Sculpture Festival, a number far exceeding that of previous years.

Attendees marvelled over the eclectic mix of sixty-five local, national and international sculptures, all of which were created using recycled materials such as stone, clay, bronze, bamboo, shells and glass.

Sculptures ranged from crowd favourites such as Glen Stars Erebus, the towering grey horse made from welded steel, to more confronting pieces such as David McGuinness’ Device Tethering, a work highlighting the way social networking has come to make users feel more alienated than ever.

Social media manager for Swell Sarah Brown says the huge success of this year’s festival can be linked to the use of social media as a tool for interacting with attendees.

‘Social media provides a real-time discussion with potential and current visitors. Questions can be asked through the channels, and with regular monitoring visitors know they are important to organisers… Social media is able to reach people in pre-planning, in transit and on-site for up-to-the minute changes and updates’, she said.

‘Channels such as Twitter provide quick methods of updates regarding festival news while Instagram and Facebook have provided strong followings for those interested in seeing the visuals’.

Event Curator Natasha Edwards told Echonetdaily a focus on Swell as a community event has been a driving force for the success of this year’s festival.

‘This year, our emphasis to engage with the entire family community has really contributed to such huge crowds,’ she said.

Community engagement was encouraged through a range of activities, from free kids workshops to twilight sculpture walks.

Little visitors to the exhibition were also invited to vote for School of Humanities Griffith University ‘Kids Choice Award’ for $3,000, which went to Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas’ Octopus Attacks, inflatable giant green tentacles placed on top of Currumbin’s famous Elephant Rock.

The Swell Sculpture Award for $15,000, judged by GOMA director Chris Saines, went to Daniel Clemmett’s controversial Keeping up with the Kalashnikovs, a massive replica of the Kalashnikov AK47 – the firearm that is ‘famous for being famous’.

Clemmett’s piece takes a deeper look at the part of our world obsessed with reality entertainment and shameless voyeurism, highlighting the way our ‘first world problems’ are often eclipsed by the daily issues faced by the great majority of the world.

Cash prizes also went to Mike van Dam’s Intervention, Glen Star’s Erebus and Jina Lee’s Harmony.

Swell Sculpture Festival will return next year with the ambition to draw an even bigger and more diverse crowd.

I asked visitors what they love about Swell and filmed their response. Watch the video below.

What did you think of Swell 2014? Let us know on TwitterInstagram or Facebook using the hashtag #SWELL2014

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Swell After Dark [GALLERY]

19 September 2014
Photos by LYDIA COLLINS DONLON

There is something special about the way Swell’s diverse range of sculptures light up after the sun has set. They say a picture tells a thousand words, so I’ll let these photographs do the talking.

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 Did you snap your own picture at swell after dark? Share using the hashtag #swellafterdark or tweet me @chasingswell.

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Swell Sculpture Festival kicks off in true Gold Coast style

11 September 2014
BY LYDIA COLLINS DONLON

An eclectic mix of organisers, volunteers, artists and their families gathered on the Currumbin foreshore this evening to celebrate the launch of the 2014 Swell Sculpture Festival.

Themed ‘black tie on the beach’, guests enjoyed an energetic performance by Barksdale Brass Band, as well as professional fire twirling and a multitude of speeches given by festival organisers.

A number of awards were presented to artists, including the Groove Cafe Artist Peer Award and Jennie Neumann OAM Emerging Artist Award.

GOMA director Chris Saines awarded the prestigious Swell Sculpture Award of $15,000 to Daniel Clemmett for his piece ‘Keeping up with the Kalashnikovs’, made of recycled steel and standing at just over half a metre tall.

Saines described Clemmett’s piece as ‘inspired’.

Keeping up with the Kalashnikovs made a thoughtful, well revolved and even provocative contribution to the Swell conversation,’ he said.

‘Clement is urging us to pay more attention to what happens in the real world’.

Keeping up with the Kalashnikovs and the creations of sixty-nine other artists will be open to the public as of tomorrow morning, and will be featured for a total of ten days.

For more information about Swell, visit the official site here.

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