Thursday, September 21, 2017


The 2017 catalogue of the Swell Sculpture Festival held at Currumbin Beach, Queensland, Australia has been published here to illustrate the review and commentary of this event: see -
This allows all sculptures to be illustrated and all texts associated with each work to be included in order to cover the broad scope of this outdoor exhibition as compactly and completely as possible.
The SWELL LIST 2017 below gives a brief commentary on each work.

Even the rear cover advertisement is the same as 2016.


01 Alison Allcock, NSW Surf Warriors

Arrows on the beach. The piece has interesting references but seems to lack delight. Is one looking at natives at war or at crude rockets? Maybe both? Does one seek more in a work of art? The sculpture has an interesting ‘primitive’ quality about it, an enigma made more strange by the title. Just what is the impact of a title on a work of art?

02 Stephanie Puggioni, QLD Self Love

Did I see this work or am I dreaming? The sculptures need much more clarification by being numbered and located on the map. Just placing a few big red dots on a diagram means nothing. The work appears a little contrived and insincere. Is it the ‘intellectual’ quality of the idea that gives it too much of a rational understanding in spite of the sweet image?

03 Kymberley McElroy, QLD Fabricated

A large-scale sewing work appropriately titled. One is not too challenged by this piece that looks like sometihng in the ‘big’ variety of things Australian, like bananas and bulls.

04 Joe Stark, NSW Captain Goodvibes The Pig of Steel

A cheeky work that is fun, with clever pieces and parts, possibly inspired somewhat by the early Trotter work. It is readily enjoyable and stands well in its sandy location, looking just like its title.

05 Sonia Payes, VIC Littoral Zone – The Begginning

The face illustrated in the catalogue has little to do with the experienced work that is intriguing and well crafted. The sculpture both looks and feels good as one walks around the beautifully flowing surfaces protruding from the sand, to discover faces, both literally and littorally. It is a shame that so many of the illustrations in the catalogue are unstarted projects. It gives a sense of the hopefully ad hoc to things that should be much more carefully considered and planned. Do all artists work to the very last minute?

06 Jacqueline Damon, QLD Intuitions

While the title might sound unusual, the work is powerful in its identity, simplicity and intent. It is truly a ‘tent’ that is a real ‘light’ house. The clever interplay of reality and idea gives this work a strength that is impressive. Its sewing craft cleverly creates images that hold their rigour even for the glancing eye.

07 Greg Johns, SA Horizon Figure

One is left trying to recall this work. If this is the case, did it have any impact? The published image does not help with remembrance. It suggests a whales tail, but was there one of these?

08 Joy Heylen, QLD The Crab

A heavy mass of a monster that seems uneasy on its rock: might it fall? Are crabs really happy on such surfaces? The rough sketch disappoints more than the completed work. The piece reads better from a distance. Nearby, the details get lost in the contrast of glare and the fuzziness of the rusting surfaces. The work is best experienced in the surprise of its discovery, cleverly camouflaged on the mass of rock. It is this beginning that one takes into the closer readings of this work that are less successful in their engagement. The original understanding that carries the hope of the whole overcomes the more intimate concerns.

09 Jonathan Leahey, VIC A Bomb May Kill You But Time Always Will

The scary bomb and all that comes with it makes this a frightening piece, aggravated by the timer. Should one leave quickly? Just what stimulates such ‘statements’ as this is a question that needs attention. Is it art? Is it a moral or social event? It is a work that it difficult to appreciate, especially when the artist has nothing more to say about it other than its uninspiring title. While one is frequently critical about artists’ statements, the lack of one does leave a hole, a gap in the understanding.

10 Clayton Thompson, QLD Safe

Another rough sketch for an incomplete idea. The final work is much more powerful than the image. It has a lovely authority managed with a simple idea of materials, structure and form. It is a work that it easily over-looked for its seriousness because of its ordinariness. It has a powerful reference to the ancient broch and makes a very pretty landmark.

11 Suzi Lucas, QLD Moonbird B95

This work is easily seen as a cliché image, but it is much more than this. The sculpture has a lovely lightness about it, but in some parts is a little crudely fabricated. Yet the image still dances visually with a sweet elegance.

12 Lance Seadon, NSW Currumbin Cruzin’

This work is a little like Trotter’s piece, (see below number 45), only more diagrammatic. It has the sense of a child’s fair game – like Dodgems. It is difficult to appreciate as art, although there are some interesting bits and pieces here that anchor themselves in their origins – as different bits of machinery.

13 Manfred Kielnhofer, AUSTRIA Guardians of Time

If the artworks exhibited were all finished and photographed for the catalogue, one might be able to recall a particular work. Being asked to remember a work illustrated as some sick, fuzzy graphic image leaves one confused. This piece is not yet recognised. Map numbers would be a good start to aid understanding too.

14 Ben Carroll, VIC Somewhere Else

This must have been a well-camouflaged piece. It is not recalled. If each work was located on the centrefold map with a numbered dot, one might be more able to ensure that the various works were all seen. Why is this not so? Is it just that it has never been done, and the SWELL management is not going to do things any differently, ever?

15 Al Phemister, NSW Fin

This is a strange work that one seeks to understand just too much: boat on waves on curved rods? The title suggests more than one sees. It is interesting in its structural forming more than its confusing subject. Whose fin? What?

16 Yunghsu Hsu, TAIWAN 2017-B

This large porcelain work mesmerises in its scale. That something so fragile can be so large entrances and puzzles: scares one. It was sad to see some broken parts, but these could be replaced. Just where something like this work might be placed is unclear. One is reminded of the fine porcelain work on the potter in the Shetland Islands, Unst, making pots out of ‘Shetland lace’ porcelain. Is this piece too large for its material? What was 2017 -A: a prototype or another work? Sometimes titles beg questions.

17 Guy Cooper, QLD Migaloo’s Song

This machine looks better in its sketch form than in real life. One has to struggle to see ‘the whale’ here, what with its conglomerate fans and feathers. It is called ‘song,’ but there was little beautiful noise here. The work does not seem to reach out beyond being a frame roughly shaped as a schematic, a diagrammatic whale with things that move in it and on it. It does not appear ‘environmental’ beyond its title that seems too good for the piece.

18 Sally Simpson, NSW Ritual Masks

These are marvellous pieces. One can see them being worn. They hum with a rich authenticity, even though one can see the chicken mesh, string and rope. The transformation is engaging and needs no explanation. This is an admirable piece that touch real ritual.

19 Phillip Piperides, QLD Conversations

What are the girls saying? The situation does not look like a chat. It seems more like exercising, when huffing and puffing might become more audible than any rational conversation. The texture of the sculptured figures is interesting, but the work does not hold an engagement that might get close to awe. One can appreciate that it is well made and has a ‘solid, safe skill’ about it.

20 Claire Davenhall, WA Meteor Morphosis

This is an interesting piece that one is attracted to, but it sits stranded in space. Is this the ‘meteor’ idea? One keeps asking too many questions about this work to let it settle down into an emotional experience.

21 Karl de Waal, QLD Get a Haircut, Get a Job

Is one reminded of those road signs just too much to enjoy this work. Political words resonate and remind one of other times. One has to work hard – too hard? - to enjoy the piece that seems too ‘roadside’ to work.

22 Jan Cleveringa, NSW A Moving World (Redundant)

This is a still, moving piece that one can appreciate on different levels. The sombre gravestones become, in detail, a collection of discarded fluorescent tubes arranged as organ pipes to create the classic image of a grave marker. The combination of pieces and image generate a response that challenges one on different levels. There is a quiet elegance to this work that impresses.

23 Antone Bruinsma, QLD Pandanus Seed People

Immediately recognisable as pandanus seeds and seats, these beautifully crafted pieces offer an unpretentious collection for folk to enjoy, in spite of the signs not to touch or climb. It was enjoyable to touch and sit, as the artist’s signs invited folk to do. The little faces offered a quaint Gibbs-like ‘gumnut people’ touch to the idea that was rigorous and complete, and well executed.

24 Monte Lupo, QLD Books and Mortar

Puns do not make good art. There is much more in this work than silly puns. It is a shame that the title overtakes these subtle qualities of time and collections. The work is nicely made, but the sketch presentation in the catalogue leaves one wondering about the task of making. Was it rushed, or just too late?

25 Giuseppe Filarod, QLD Weapons of Massive Creations

Pencils at war: this war theme is a concern. What is the intent here - prophecy or protest? The images are bold and scary. They frighten one, an experience that is echoed in Trump’s silly UN words spoken today – 20 September 2017. This is one of the many ‘sketched’ works in the catalogue. The SWELL management should insist on having a complete catalogue of finished pieces, if only for the record. The rough images suggest late-minute outcomes; maybe hurried? The workmanship here looks a little of both.

26 Gabriel Rosati, NSW Knight To?

The title puzzles, but the work delights. The old awning pieces are all recognisable and offer a lovely decorative reference in reuse; but is this a knight? The title asks the same question. Art should not be a question. This piece is subtle and needs a more positive approach to its qualities than the raising of doubts. It is the tin of the Queenslander without the timber.

27 Jordan Azcune, QLD Surrender (White Caps)

One guessed the title, but not the intent. The work has a lovely tensegrity-like touch, but it seems an effort to be otherwise engaged with it. The shadows are lovely; the fluttering pretty; but the whole leaves one a little lost. Is too much effort needed to understand this piece?

28 Miles Allen, QLD Love Birds

The Japanese temple is filled with this idea of fluttering messages. That these are here on blue card does little to involve one in the idea of the bower that the work seeks to be. Just what is the relationship between personal notes and public meaning – and art? In Japan the system is used for prayers and wishes. Is the artwork too blandly ambitious to try to use these emotions here?

29 Manning Daly Art, QLD Tidal Intersection

One struggles to understand this crescent moon form beyond a blue arc. The tides and the moon are related, but plonking crescent moon form one beside the ocean does little to engage one in this mystery that is heightened with the full moon. Is one asked to think too much? Thought does not convert into emotion too easily, but emotions can generate thoughts.

30 Daniel Clemmett, NSW First World Privilege

Here technique overtakes the effort. Previous years have seen the roughly welded, coloured panels structure other images. The technique is clearly identifiable, like the van Dam chain work. Whatever the message might be – is it political or social? - one struggles to appreciate the link to the cock. Joe Stark’s, (sculpture number 04), cock has a greater relevance and obvious immediacy.

31 Yesim Ustaoglu, TURKEY Everything Solid Evaporates

A difficult work to appreciate. It starts an intellectual game that invites too much questioning. Can art be educational in this way; can educational pieces be art?

32 Wayne Markwort, QLD Bullboy

A true brut of a piece that starts one thinking of possums first, then – whatever; something rough and brash: maybe bully boy. It is the form or the colour? Both? It is not a loveable work, but is probably not supposed to be. One struggles to enjoy its craft.

33 MJ Ryan Bennett, QLD A New Face

A Ferris wheel that delights as a string of chairs. The Currumbin ‘Eye’? It is a successful piece that opens up to the horizon with style. It is modestly priced too, something that ‘art’ today needs to consider. The idea that ‘art’ has to be hugely expensive to be considered ‘of quality’ is a misconception promoted by some artists and art dealers. One thinks of Lucian Freud selling works in America for any huge, multi-million dollar figure he could conjure up.

34 Vince Vozzo, NSW Philosopher, Artist, Poet

Three-in-one. The piece is beautifully crafted, but has strong references to the work of others – Brancusi comes to mind. It becomes a struggle to see it other than a work dedicated to the modern masters; but then one sees a little something else in the stone and likes it again. It becomes admirable; skilful. Dare one touch it?

35 Jina Lee, WA Atom 11

Was there an ‘Atom 1’? This sculpture looks more like a geological specimen. It seems lost in its location, and leaves one puzzling about its sense, while admiring its massing, colour, form and finish. It makes one see the random rocks in the area as ‘art.’

36 Sha Sarwari, VIC Alienation

Gosh, it is not easy to see ‘alienation’ here. It looks like one of the pair has fallen over. Is this ‘alienation’? The work seems to have better possibilities than this, being cleverly constructed in timber, as a violin might be. Hummmm.

37 Abraham Fungalei Tongia, QLD She’s His & He Is Hers

Did I see this work? It must have been well integrated into its context. The title and the published image seem to try to offer some mystery to duplication that is rarely there.

38 Ibrahim Koc, Turkey The Loose Power

It do not remember seeing this work. Was it there? The published image seems to be a variation of the ‘big chair’ theme that we have seen over the years: OOPS! Be careful! Is the message to be careful with power? Political messages do not necessarily make good art; broken chairs likewise.

39 Sean Williams, QLD The Huntress

An interesting ‘early Trotter’ copy? It is just that the early Trotter pieces are much better, more skilful in their suggestiveness, their identity, although not as slickly finished as this piece that one can come to admire the more one looks at it.

40 Rushdi Anwar, VIC Art, Like Morality, Consists In Drawing the Line Somewhere . . Is It?

A question in the title leaves the whole questionable. Is this about war, or peace? Sandbags remind of Aleppo and WW1, but . . . What is one to make of this beyond these associations? Is this ‘moral’ art? A sculpture drawing a line? The effort offers a real puzzle.

41 Michael Nelson Jagamatra, QLD Lightning Strike at Currumbin

A zigzag, brassy mass does not make lightning, even if it might be ‘interesting.’ it is the comic book diagram of lightning. The work has other associations beyond lightning that stick in one’s mind prior to understanding the idea – consider the lyre.

42 Jeanette Krohn, NSW Post-Tree Museum 11

A crude, weathered hardwood post, complete with a barbed wire base, (?), capped with a gorgeous glass tree that looks just like jade. It is very delightful, but leaves one pondering the intent. A better placement might have transformed this work. One could see the glass only with trees in the background. Better light would have transformed the work.

43 Casselle Mountford, QLD Caduceus

A beautiful piece of canework that moves nicely in the breeze. Its ordinary appearance requires one to apply oneself to truly enjoy this piece. How might this be overcome? The question arises: what is it for? Does it matter? Well, yes: art needs substance.

44 Village Bike Inc., QLD Speed of Sound

Puns rarely make good art. Placing a couple of things, a pianola and a bicycle/wind structure, side by side with little beyond juxtaposition and a title to hold them together, offers only a form to the pun of the title that puzzles rather than thrills. It is like a pun on a pun: not funny or even ‘punny’ art.

45 Christopher Trotter, QLD Beached Racer

It is difficult to know what Mark Trotter is doing these days. Last year he expressed an interest in industrial objects; now it is in vehicles – see his Northerly SWELL truck. This work lacks the wonder of his early sculptures of animals and birds, even fossils. This newly mechanised sculpture does not seem to be able to engage his marvellous eye for imagery and associations. What one sees is a decorated racer-like thing. It does not seek the transformation, the rereading of form, its reinterpretation, beyond machinery that his other pieces did. It seems to leave him somewhat ‘beached’ himself, using machine parts ‘artfully.’

46 Tom Lawson & Dave Bell, QLD Echo 2

“Whatever you want it to be” was the mother’s explanation of this piece. Perhaps this comment to the child does offer the core critique of ambiguity and uncertainty – what is the intent here beyond ‘art’? The work does have a growth/leaf imagery about it, but the title wants to touch on something else.

47 Paul Harrington, NSW Colours of the Wind

An engaging work visually that has interesting functional possibilities. One is surprised by the camera, how it stops the spin to offer some beautiful patterns. The work deserves more consideration than it appears to ask for. It is too easily dismissed as a spinning toy might be. It needs to make more of the ‘colour’ in its title, and to work with the set more closely as a whole rather than as a set of isolated parts. Imagine one large, bold colourful piece of varying scales intertwining cleverly as the different parts spin their own mystic stories.

48 Rosi Griffin, QLD Bus Stop – Direction – La Serena Chile

An interesting idea that has more rational architectural overtones than ‘arty’ ones. The idea behind the work seems too literal and geographic to engage one other than intellectually; but it does make one aware of the world we live on.

49 Alicia Lane, QLD Araucarian Leaf

A subtle work that is easy to dismiss. It is one that deserves more attention than it seems to seek. It makes a splendid shawl-like wreath when draped across the trunks of the tree; a very pretty object to discover.

50 Glenn Barry, QLD I See All Of Me And Some Of You

It becomes a struggle to fully enjoy this work beyond its decorative possibilities. One is reminded of some classy speaker boxes. The arrangement might have heightened the idea, rather than dispaly a set of different but similar forms, as if they might be options.

51 Michael Van Dam, QLD These Hands

More marvellous chain sculpture – all very interesting, but the technique starts to overcome the intent, idea and meaning with the ‘as seen before’ syndrome. The Elephant Rock location always seems to be a challenge for SWELL. This sculpture does not appear to be a suitable piece for this location. Maybe it should be forgotten if there is no appropriate work submitted. Should management be more proactive in seeking particular artworks for various possibilities? Might the pink broch, number 10 by Clayton Thompson, have held a better presence here? Would this have given this plastic work just too much prominence? Still, number 10 looked spectacular on the beach, like a bottle brush flower. Could it have been better? The hands, sadly, had no public presence on their elevated location.

For previous SWELL catalogues, see:

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