Queensland College of Art postgraduate student Alicia Lane has scooped the $15,000 top prize at the Gold Coast Swell Sculpture Festival.
Ms Lane,43, took out the Swell Sculpture Award with her work titled Rainforest Remnants, which has been acquired by a private collector.
Taking out the festival’s major prize was no easy feat, with 55 entries in this year’s competition by Australian and international artists.
“It was completely unexpected – my head is still spinning,” said the Queensland College of Art student.
“I felt really humbled to be chosen.”
The first challenge was finding the raw materials for the piece – a quest that took her across south-east Queensland.
“Having the sheet metal done industrially was too expensive, so I started thinking about using found objects,” she said.
“I decided to use old laundry coppers, which are single sheets of pressed metal.
Coppers add sense of history
“I grew up in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, where we had an old wood-fired copper, and I thought it would add a nice sense of history to the piece.
“I wanted to look at people’s relationship to the landscape, and combine a sense of place with social history.”
After sourcing coppers everywhere from Bribie Island to Browns Plains, it took Ms Lane several months to craft the series of copper seed pods.
“A lot of hard work went into it – many long days and late nights!” she said.
“Metal is so technical and it is very physically demanding to create these large scale pieces, but it was really satisfying to see it all come together.
Mature-age student reaps success
It has been a long, hard road for the artist, who didn’t finish high school and embarked on her studies as a mature-age student while juggling two young children and part-time work.
“I was always a practicing artist, but I was out on my own and didn’t have any connection to the art world.
“I did my Grade 12 equivalent at TAFE, and then was accepted into the QCA, which just opened up all kinds of possibilities. I have really done this from the ground up.”
The Queensland College of Arts was well represented at the festival this year, with students, staff and alumni entering pieces.
Queensland College of Art Director Derrick Cherrie said the award was a “real honour”.
“We are thrilled that Alicia has scooped the top prize at the Swell Sculpture Festival,” he said.
“This illustrates the breadth of talent at the QCA.”
Exposure for emerging artists
Swell Festival curator Natasha Edwards said the exhibition provided invaluable exposure for emerging artists.
“We are really launching sculptors and giving them a platform,” she said.
“It’s important that they have a showcase for their work.”
The prize was judged by Gold Coast City Art Gallery Director Tracy Cooper-Lavery, who said the work resonated with the festival’s philosophy of ‘people, art, place’.
“There is a cyclic nature to the work,” she said. “It speaks of logging rainforest timbers in the Gold Coast region – timbers that could have well been used to stoke the copper as part of the washing process. A process too which now is lost like those rainforest timbers.
“The work itself appears as though the copper is discarding the seeds in preparation for regrowth.”
This year, more than a quarter of a million people are expected to visit the exhibition at Currumbin Beach, which runs from September 9 – 18.
For more information, see the Swell website.