Closed border of Queensland, Soviet brutalism in the spotlight at the Swell Sculpture Festival


There is a new border barricade on the Gold Coast, but rather than separate Queensland from New South Wales, it is dividing ‘us and them’.

It is part of the Swell Sculpture Festival on Currumbin Beach and locals use it to express their frustration with border restrictions using blackboard and chalk.

Delmimitation artists Blair Garland and Russell Solomon said the responses were “sad to sure” with many “rude about border closures and government restrictions.”

“It’s really an emotional thing for a lot of people,” Solomon said.

“A European woman was in tears, she could not visit her family.

“Yet there is a lot of love to be matched in a sculpture festival where people can come together and feel personally.

People can express their feelings about Queensland’s closed borders in this Swell sculpture.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

‘Old and new’

Garland said the stark difference between life before and after COVID-19 helped inspire the sculpture.

“We want everyone to interpret our signs and all of our work the way they want,” she said.

“It came from discussions between Russ and I about the old world versus the new world.”

orange barricades
Sculpture at the Gold Coast Swell Festival by Blair Garland and Russell Solomon.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Another sculpture heavily featured in Swell’s 2021 lineup is Clayton Blake’s nearly 10-meter-tall monolith, an ode to brutalist architecture of the Soviet era.

“Three months of manufacturing, I started with a wood frame and then a steel frame,” he said.

“It’s very resistant, [would] will probably last 150 years. “

sculpture on the beach
‘Monolith’ by 2021 Swell Festival Clayton Blake.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Blake said Swell’s outdoor gallery allows people to “come together and feel personally.”

I always want people to engage rather than in the past people going to a museum and it’s ‘look, don’t touch’, ”he said.

“I encourage people to climb and climb into [Monolith]. “

Lots of love

Artist Miles Allen has also taken an interactive approach, asking people to leave a message of love on his installation, 15,000 Declarations of Love.

writing on card
People can leave a personal message on the Swell Festival sculpture by artist Miles Allen.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

“These are fallen sticks that I gathered and placed in the shape of a heart,” he said.

“Some people do it really hard and it’s an opportunity for a certain love to come out and people to express their love.

“I hope people come out of feeling the love, feeling happier, and feeling a little more compassionate.”

The artwork Bull Shark (What Lies Within) by Robert Guenther in 2021 Swell.(ABC Gold Coast: Dominic Cansdale)

Maddie, a resident of Currumbin, said the sculptures “show what Currumbin really has to offer.”

“Feeling for the people across the border. It makes us a little more grateful to have him on our doorstep.”

Her friend Bronte said she hopes it gives more people a reason to visit local businesses.

“It brings a lot of people from the north, even to Mermaid [Beach],” she said.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that a small border bubble would be put in place on Monday.

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