Kirra, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads

Saturday 13 September 2014

Swell Sculpture Festival

Seaballs, Rifles and Graffiti Knitting adorn Currumbin Beach

Good weather brought the crowds to Currumbin beach and foreshore for the opening weekend of the Swell Festival.  Now in its 12th year, this year's festival features the work of 70 local and international artists, including the impossible-to-miss writhing giant green tentacles of “Octopus Attacks” by UK artists Filthy Luker and Pedro Estrellas.
Festival Director, Ruth Della, is expecting over 200,000 people to enjoy the sculptures and activities over the next 10 days and is hoping visitors will “take away an experience, interact with the artwork and the artists and gain knowledge, new ideas and perspectives”.
New to the festival this year, according to Ruth, is the café culture at the Wallace Nicoll Park and a “Salute to Sculpture” event this coming Thursday (18 September) where local yogis are invited to join in a beautiful calming yoga experience amongst the artworks.
One of the most popular and noticeable works lining the foreshore is the walk through installation, “Tunnel van de Liefde” (Tunnel of Love), by Belgian bamboo artist, Georges Cuvillier.  Comprised of 325 bamboo poles, harvested in Queensland and installed on site over 9 days, the sculpture was so named “because sometimes love is a tunnel, filled with entrances and exits … and if you look at it from the side it’s like two people trying to connect”.  The artist though was quick to acknowledge that people will find their own meaning and enjoyment from the work with visitors variously seeing the structure as waves, a fish, a porcupine or Aboriginal shelter. “Tunnel of Love” marks Georges second year as a Swell festival participant.
Also a crowd pleaser were the brightly covered knitted trees, titled “Perfectly Imperfect”, by Queensland artist Vanessa Anseline, a work that “celebrates the recovery process from mental health issues and the unique talents, wisdom and skills of the elderly.”   “Veiled Views”, a small but intriguing box of mysteries set behind 5 closed doors, was also a popular favourite.  Both works will no doubt be close contenders for the People’s Choice Award to be announced at 5pm on the closing day of the festival.
Festival organizers and judges were perhaps courting controversy in naming “Keeping up with the Kalashnikovs” winner of the Swell Sculpture Award which saw a prize of $15,000 go to Queensland artist, Daniel Clemmett.  The giant rifle, made from recycled steel and pointed northward towards Surfers, was a provocative choice that did not fail to draw a reaction from Swell visitors. Comments varied with many aghast at its warlike message, most impressed by its undeniable craftsmanship, and others excited by its novelty and sheer effrontery of its lack of apparent connection to Queensland culture, values or lifestyle.
A full schedule of events is planned for the 10 days including music, performance artists, kids workshops, artist talks, and sculpting, drawing and felting masterclasses and workshops.  A night visit or Twilight Sculpture Walk is a must with many of the sculptures to be lit for the occasion.
The festival continues until Sunday 21 September 2014.
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