SWELL Sculpture Festival (SWELL) is a multifaceted arts organisation that connects people, art, and place, based in Currumbin, Gold Coast, Queensland. Since 2003 SWELL has exhibited 873 Sculptures in the main exhibition on Currumbin Beach with a portfolio value worth $15.5M.

SWELL was the brainchild of a shared moment between two creative minds. In 2002, Natasha Edwards and Kylie Mitchell-Smith shared the idea of creating a new art experience for everyone while their four small children played alongside them. Their idea was bold. It was challenging. It was about creating art in an accessible environment and it eventually evolved into SWELL Sculpture Festival, a free, outdoor sculpture exhibition on the beautiful beaches of Currumbin. Six thousand people visited the first SWELL Sculpture Festival on a sunny September weekend in 2003, enjoying 23 sculptures on display. SWELL was established as a not for profit arts organisation with a supportive board of Directors, a highly dedicated team. Natasha Edwards continues her role as co Founder, Artistic Director and Curator of SWELL.

The SWELL Sculpture Festival strengthened its presence on the Queensland art circuit in 2004 with an exhibition of works that included high calibre artists such as Christopher Trotter (Queensland) and international artists such as Andy Scott (Scotland) and Nick Horrigan (UK). In 2005, the festival extended to ten days and introduced the popular SWELL Smalls Gallery.

A passionate team of local creatives, who shared the visionary energy of SWELL were now involved in developing the exhibition along with the founders and the kids’ education program was initiated, music was introduced on the weekends and SWELL’s team of loyal volunteers was growing!

Artist awards were introduced such as the Environmental Awareness Award, Emerging Artist Award and the Gold Coast City Council Acquisition, which has led to a sculpture trail around the coast with SWELL works a predominant portion of this trail. A Major Award of $15,000 is a drawcard for many Artists.

Since 2003, SWELL has captured the hearts and minds of large and diverse audiences. SWELL makes arts, culture, and creativity accessible to people from all walks of life, inviting everyone to immerse themselves. Reimagining natural landscapes into outdoor, large-scale sculpture galleries and popping up within existing galleries and art spaces. With a strong focus on sculpture, SWELL’s sensory capabilities offer a symphony of experiences that ingrain memories and embed a connection to place. SWELL produces meaningful experiences for intergenerational audiences to share. SWELL is for everyone.

Nineteen years on, the organisation provides a world-class artistic platform for artists to inspire and be inspired, supporting creatives to develop and maintain sustainable careers. Stimulating creative thinking, improving happiness and health of artists and audiences, SWELL activates storytelling in physical and digital spaces, driving social change, connecting communities and strengthening social cohesion.

SWELL educates audiences to value arts, culture and creativity by inviting everyone to come and see for themselves. SWELL builds and maintain relationships and forms collaborations with fellow arts organisations with the sector to support, sustain, grow and thrive as we create together.

Significantly contributing to Queensland’s supercharged arts, culture, creative past and exciting future, SWELL is driven by values including excellence, experiential, inclusivity, and collaboration while promoting artist and provoking public engagement with art and community.

Being a platform for emerging, mid-career and professional artists alike, together forming a strong local, national and international community of artists, with relationships made and supporting each other for years into the future as they forge forward in their careers within the arts. SWELL strongly supports First Nations Arts, encouraging sharing of stories through visual arts and performing arts.

When asked, many artists who have exhibited at SWELL will reference the experience as life-changing in ways they never imagined, as they have shared the opportunity to express themselves through large-scale sculpture for public view. The Gold Coast and greater Queensland community is proud of SWELL as an organisation, and year after year, SWELL Sculpture Festival builds civic pride and a greater sense of belonging.

Nineteen years on SWELL continues to connect people, art, and place.


Image: Andy Scott Arabesque Photography Paul Ewart