Dion Parker and Andrew Cullen have won the $15,000 Swell Sculpture Festival award, judged this weekend in Currumbin, with a huge bear that is hard to hug.
Mr Parker said Prickles the Unhuggable Bear, a 4m teddy crafted from coils of barbed wire, was inspired by the debate around how technology is restricting the imagination of children.
“Children are being handed hard, lifeless devices where once upon a time you were given a teddy bear,” Mr Parker said.
“It became your friend, you gave it a name and you went on adventures. That is what really stimulates your imagination and creativity.
“Modern devices don’t take any imagination to use, you just go into a portal and it takes away the love and affection that is involved in loving an object like a teddy bear.”
The Swell Sculpture Festival is an annual public art event that invites more than 50 local and international artists to exhibit their work for 10 days, drawing around 275,000 visitors.
Mr Parker is a full time artist exhibiting at Swell for the seventh time. This is the first time he has won the major prize, shared with collaborator Andrew Cullen.
“I love the way Swell transforms the beach for 12 days every year and it’s really good to see so many people appreciating art that might not usually make it to a gallery,” Mr Parker said.
Gold Coast resident Jenny Murray attends Swell each year and says it’s not just the art but the meanings behind them that make the event special.
“There are always different sculptures and it’s exciting to see what the artists have created and learn about the meanings behind their sculptures,” Ms Murray said.
“My favourite this year was In the Flow, because I agree with the artist’s message: it’s so true that we are bound by our own limitations. We can actually do anything but it’s our own belief system that confines us from doing things.”
The event runs from September 14-28.