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.
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.