Arts SWELL on the beach in Queensland: Biggest outdoor sculpture festival begins

By Our Reporter

Currumbin on the Gold Coast will again become a hotspot of cultural celebration when the annual sculpture festival hits its beaches this week.

Now in its 18th year, SWELL is Queensland’s biggest outdoor art exhibition.

The free, all-ages event attracts locals and visitors alike, as festivalgoers meander along the beach while engaging with dozens of larger-than-life pieces.

This year is no exception, with more than 50 large-scale artworks featured along Currumbin Beach. While everyone continues to adjust to life amid COVID-19, the event’s executive team has made adjustments to ensure the festival is safe.

“We are thrilled to be connecting people, art and place, presenting a COVID-safe SWELL Sculpture Festival for visitors to enjoy,” SWELL artist director and curator Natasha Edwards says. “It has been a rollercoaster ride this year and the whole world has felt the stress of the pandemic. We’ve come to realise in times like these, getting outdoors, creating and enjoying art is more important than ever.”

A number of changes have been made to this year’s SWELL event to make it COVID safe.

Sculptures will be strategically placed along the 1km stretch of Currumbin Beach to ensure appropriate social distancing while taking in the artworks.

Festival executive director Dee Steinfort says the fact SWELL is an open-air event is an advantage.

“We’re unique in that we’re an outdoor exhibition, so there’s lots of space for people to move around freely and enjoy the artworks,” Dee says.

Associated online events will also feature strongly this year.

Artists’ panels and interviews will be streamed online, while the SWELL Kids Elements program will offer free online sculptural workshops and fun events for children.

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