The 16th annual SWELL Sculpture Festival, held from September 14 to 23, is an opportunity for art lovers, visitors, locals and families to engage with art in an iconic coastal setting.

Spanning more than 1km along the foreshore, the free family-friendly exhibition will transform Currumbin Beach into a temporary exhibition of specially curated one-off works of art on a larger scale.

With this year’s focus on placing the ‘artist as the hero’, SWELL will feature captivating and topical works from 45 local, national and international artists, with works created at a variety of scale to dominate and integrate with the landscape across 10 days. 

Curated to challenge visitors and provoke thoughtful discussions among its audience, the selected pieces for this year’s showcase are set to inspire through scale and diversity.

The largest of the featured works is a detailed and interactive piece by award-winning Australian artist and former SWELL exhibitor Clayton Blake, which – once installed – will stand eight meters tall.

Fusing elements of architecture and sculpture, the piece, titled Trafficking, presents an ‘exploration of the global impact of Human Trafficking’, using 1000 reflective traffic cones.

Incorporating various mediums and textiles, South Australian artist Karl Meyer is set to create a visually engaging piece titled Foci using corrugated steel, while Melbourne-based artist Ryoko Kose turns to crochet hemp yarn to construct her intricately woven yet free-flowing and whimsical installation Just Keep Going.

SWELL’s open-air exhibition will also welcome works from two international artists, with Sweden’s Karl Chilcott tackling the limits of nature through his 1500kg gold coated Ngara Tree, and Germany’s Thomas Reifferscheid presenting Blade – a tactile silhouette-style sculpture carved entirely from black granite.

Designed to present a double meaning, the curved sculpture can be viewed as a blade of grass standing in the wind, representing the strength of nature and her resources, or as a blade of a sword – a deadly weapon, representative of the violation of the resources nature has given us.

With the environment undoubtedly playing an underlying theme to most of the featured works, emerging artist Joanne Elliot’s War of the Worlds – a steel and epoxy resin piece is inspired by the magically surreal, alien-like and microscopic life-forms that exist in our oceans, Phytoplankton. Queensland artist Cate Collopy’s Fantastic Plastic follows suit with a land, sea and air penetrator made from reused plastic material to both raise questions around just how much our behaviour as humans, is impacting our natural surrounds.

SWELL’s Creative Director Ruth Della said the much-loved exhibition had become a cultural pillar for the Gold Coast and an outdoor art experience one could look forward to each year.

“For over 15 years, artists have captured people’s imaginations as they share in their storytelling or inform on issues that are close to their heart. The drawcard for people to return to SWELL each year is to experience an ever-changing display of sculpture and program of events,” Ms Della said.

“This year we have curated the exhibition based on quality works to inspire and provoke. We have looked conceptually at what will challenge and inspire visitors and what will connect the audience to the artists’ mind's eye."

“There will be artworks to command attention and conversely, there will be intimate works to intrigue. It is this diversity in the types of works selected for the exhibition where visitors can enjoy a breadth of sensory experiences all the while enjoying time with friends and family at the beach.”

Boasting a strong Gold Coast contingent of artists, visitors will be able to enjoy works that reflect on the past days of the Gold Coast. Local emerging artist Kannitha Ly tells the history of the local beach culture with her interactive installation Sandy Sundays, a textile piece inspired by bathing boxes, which perfectly captures a lazy day by the beach.

Following in suit of the nostalgic, Greg Quinton’s Jump – a 3mt high swing – will prompt viewers to think about their childhood, as they look on at the swing frozen at the height of its arc. While Phillip Piperides’ beautiful bronzed pieces, titled Facing East and Currumbin Rock - Boy stands atop each iconic headland rock. Kirsten Baade’s Everted Reflections – a large scale kinetic kaleidoscope is an engaging visual that interacts and intertwines with the surrounding coastal landscape. 

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said SWELL had secured its place as a highly-anticipated and much-loved event in Queensland and is one of the largest free outdoor art exhibitions in the state.

“The festival importantly shines the spotlight on and celebrates our state’s professional and emerging artists, this year featuring nine artists from the Gold Coast and a further 24 from across the state, in addition to attracting national and international artists.

"The Queensland Government, through Arts Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland, proudly supports the SWELL Sculpture Festival.

“This vibrant arts event continues to deliver significant economic benefits for the state through cultural tourism, by attracting more than 275,000 visitors to the Currumbin foreshore each year,” Minister Enoch said.

Artists will vie for the $15,000 Neumann Family SWELL Sculpture Award. SWELL is privileged to welcome local art identity Rebecca Ross Artistic Director the Walls Arts Space to the task of judging. Visitors will have the opportunity to vote for their favourite sculpture with a People’s Choice Award and Kids’ Choice Award. There will also be awards presented for an Emerging Artist Award, Environmental Awareness Award and Artist Peer Award.

Visitors to this year’s SWELL will also be able to enjoy a multi-faceted creative environment, with the event program featuring captivated guided twilight walks, artists talks, a school-based program and a host of engaging family-friendly workshops including a Life Drawing workshop with artist Rebecca Cunningham and a Modeling From Life masterclass with Phillip Piperides.

Not isolated to the southern end of the Coast, SWELL Sculpture Festival will literally be blown to new proportions extending to Helensvale with Northerly Swell. Local artist Dion Parker will inflate imaginations with his upscaled inflatable dog Lil’ Dusty at the Helensvale Library and Cultural Centre from August 29 to September 23.

SWELL invites the local community to kick off their shoes and immerse themselves in this internationally acclaimed cultural attraction and experience the atmosphere that continues to captivate art enthusiasts, families, beach lovers and the like.

For more information, please visit

SWELL Sculpture Festival

Date: September 14-23, 2018

Location: Pacific Parade, Currumbin Beach, Gold Coast

Cost: FREE

Northerly SWELL

Date: August 29 to September 23

Location: Helensvale Library and Cultural Centre, Helensvale

Cost: FREE

SWELL Sculpture Festival is a not for profit arts organisation.

SWELL Sculpture Festival is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and Tourism and Events Queensland as a part of the vibrant calendar of events on offer throughout the State.  

For more media information, please contact Karleigh Pearson at Ruby Communications on (07) 5532 3808 or email