Over the first weekend of the Queensland school holidays, more than 20,000 people attended the 21st SWELL Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast to explore the 75 artworks on display, including the work of budding 19-year-old Sunshine Coast artist Harmony Linthorne.
As a first year Griffith University Fine Arts undergraduate and former St Andrew’s Anglican College student, Ms Linthorne’s work Wheelie Blossoms quickly became a crowd favourite on the one kilometre outdoor gallery on Currumbin Beach.
The interactive sculptural artwork, composed using 20 wheelie bins, attracted curious art lovers in the thousands who came to pause for a moment and contemplate the artist’s message about protecting our beaches and managing our rubbish.
Ms Linthorne said her artwork aimed to encourage onlookers to consider the juxtaposition of household bins transformed into playful flowers, rising out of the sand on Currumbin Beach.
“The response from the crowds was unbelievable and to see the smiles on everyone’s faces when they look at the blossoms was really rewarding,” said Ms Linthorne.
“When I designed this site speciﬁc work, I was looking for ways to engage directly with the audience, to generate an emotional responses while raising questions about the impact of humans on the natural landscape.
“The inclusion of the audio soundscape that captured tumbling trash and the ubiquitous beep of the reversing garbage truck brought joy and laughter to those who strolled along the beach. Most people stood and looked at the blossoms for a while, took a photo and then leaned in a bit closer and laughed at the sounds coming from the bins.
“This engagement with my artwork is what I love.”
SWELL Section Manager Willem Scheepers said Swell 2023 had an emphasis on sustainability and environmental messaging, cost of living, as well as powerful commentary on current political topics.
“What could be better than having an art gallery on the beach, especially on this beautiful stretch of coastline,” said Mr Scheepers.
“The great thing about SWELL is that it brings the art to the people.”
The 10-day SWELL festival took place from 8 to 17 September on Currumbin Beach.
About Harmony Linthorne
Harmony Linthorne is a Sunshine Coast and Brisbane local emerging artist who specialises in psychological art-making practices. The key focal point of her works centre around audience engagement and manipulation of emotional responses using audio-visual techniques. In 2022, Harmony completed her ﬁrst year of a Bachelor of Psychology degree. Psychological processes heavily inﬂuence her artworks and she aims to complete the Psychology degree in the future to help develop her personal art style and aesthetic. Working on Gubbi Gubbi and Meanjin land, Harmony embraces conceptual artmaking techniques drawing on psychological theories and processes to achieve maximum audience engagement and responses. Harmony is now studying a degree of Fine Arts (Visual Art), and aims to enhance and add to her portfolio as a young artist.
About 2023 SWELL ARTWORK – Wheelie Blossoms
‘Wheelie Blossoms’ is an interactive sculptural art piece which invites audiences to consider our coastline and the environmental footprint we leave behind. The site speciﬁc work generates emotional responses from audiences, raising questions about the impact of humans on the natural landscape. ‘Wheelie Blossoms’ invites audiences to walk around and interact with its ‘Baby Blossoms’ by collecting beach debris whilst simultaneously responding to the work’s audio-visual elements. The collaborative artwork combines elements of sculpture and digital design in order to captivate audiences and stimulate conversations surrounding our natural environment.