SGC Profile: 15 Years of SWELL

Posted on Friday, August 04, 2017

A shared moment between two creative minds in 2002 has seen the birth of not just one of the Southern Gold Coast’s leading festivals, but an internationally renowned exhibition that captures the hearts and minds of all who visit.

SWELL will once again return to Currumbin’s iconic foreshore from 8 – 17 September for its 15th year, a milestone that marks its modest beginnings in September 2003 with 23 sculptures and 6,000 visitors to today, exhibiting the work of 50 artists and attracting around 265,000 visitors annually.

Founding Director and Curator, Natasha Edwards and Creative Director, Ruth Della have both watched SWELL evolve from behind the scenes over the past 15 years from a Currumbin born event into a world class sculpture exhibition.

“Stemming from a drop in the ocean, 15 years ago SWELL was ‘getting art out there’,” Ms Edwards said. “SWELL was a simple desire for art to be accessible to everyone and to provide a platform for artists to display their works in a public place.

“There seemed to be a gap, and we saw an opportunity to make a real difference to our local community by taking art outdoors,” she said. “We accomplished that, and since those first years, SWELL has grown exponentially.”

Working two years in advance and with SWELL 2017 fast approaching, the dynamic duo have both worn several hats across many different areas and are seeing the fruits of their labour come to life in the form of Queensland’s largest barefoot gallery.

“The installation of 50 sculptures is wonderfully rewarding especially after pouring over artist drawings, measurements, footings and installation plans for the larger part of the year,” Ms Della said. “There is a sense of reunion, and new friendships form as well as some pretty incredible conversations,” she said. “Another joy is seeing how the audience reacts and responds to the works – we often just sit and listen.”

Not just a spectacle for the community to enjoy, SWELL has provided home grown artists the opportunity to get their art out there amongst some of the biggest names in the industry.

“We mentor artists, propel them to a new level of artistic delivery and kick start careers,” said Ms Edwards. “Local Gold Coast artists have the chance to express and connect with a large audience through the medium of sculpture and join with national and international artists on a world stage.”

After 15 years, SWELL continues to evolve and become influenced by the art it presents and by the people that are part of it. It’s set to showcase another 50 inspiring sculptures in 2017 over 10 magical days.

“We’re so excited to be presenting SWELL this year and to reminisce with our Board, our artists, our team, our families and our wonderful volunteers on the good times, the tricky times and a lot of fun times!” said Ms Della. “SWELL will be launching new programs especially targeted at participating and finding the artist within; we’ll uncover new musicians, and we’ll forge a thousand new memories as people come down to visit during the ten days.”

For the co-creators, they will reflect on over 600 sculptures that have been exhibited during the past 15 years and look back at hundreds of thousands of smiling faces enjoying the experience of being up close and personal with art.

SWELL Sculpture Festival is proudly supported by Connecting Southern Gold Coast.

SWELL will return to the Currumbin Foreshore from 8 – 17 September. Find more information, including the 2017 program, at

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