Behind the magic of Swell Festival


The Crab by Joy Heylen. Photo: Justin Faull.

Last week, Currumbin was host to one of the most awe-inspiring events on the Gold Coast- the Swell Sculpture Festival.

Over fifty different artworks were showcased across the 8th to the 17th of September, ranging from small multi-instrumental projects to giant, larger-than-life statues.

One artist at the festival, MJ Ryan Bennett gave some insight into how much work can go into a single sculpture at the festival.

Ms Bennett described much of her work as “sophisticated pop art” and usually involves ordinary materials.

“Ebb and Flow took me approximately 3 months to complete,” Ms Bennett said.

There were a lot of steps involved for Ebb and Flow, as it required intensive fiberglassing.

“Firstly, I had to learn to fibreglass. The main component that holds the cups is a fibre glass half sphere shell. I made 3 of these, one which sits on the ground and the other 2 were fastened to make the larger sphere,” Ms Bennett said.

“There’s also approximately 3000 cups that were used to make the sculptures and 1000 LED fairy lights woven in and around the cups to light it up. This took [nearly] four hours to complete.”

Despite enjoying the artistic craft, Ms Bennett did have some hesitations about doing the ordeal again.

“Fibre-glassing is a toxic and uncomfortable process, not one I wish to repeat anytime soon,” she said.

Ms Bennett also had another structure on show at the festival, A New Face, which was constructed out of individual chairs.

A New Face. Photo: MJ Ryan Bennett.

However, it was not all sunshine at the festival as many artists and visitors complained that children and adults alike were touching or climbing over some of the sculptures.

Andrew, an elderly visitor at the festival said it was disappointing to see.

“I just wish parents would take more control of their kids sometimes,” he said.

By the following Saturday of the festival, one of the structures had been removed by the artists due to inappropriate touching of the sculptures.

Despite these minor incidents, the festival was considered a success with over 200,000 visitors attending the week-long festival.

The Swell festival is expected to continue next year.

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