Griffith grad wins top honours at Swell Sculpture Festival

A Likely Coalition, 2019 Image courtesy Chris Bennie.

Queensland College of Art alumnus and lecturer Chris Bennie has won the $15,000 grand prize at the Gold Coast Swell Sculpture Festival, for the second time.

Dr Bennie took out the 2019 Neumann Family Swell Sculpture Award with his playful work A Likely Coalition, following his first win five years ago.

‘From the absurd to the sublime’

The eye-catching piece is constructed of artfully arranged ‘found’ objects – a vintage Fiat Mirafiori from the local wreckers and a set of filing cabinets.

“Most of my work has a humorous bent – I like to see how I can transform the absurd into the sublime,” he said.

“It’s a juxtaposition of utilitarian objects that are no longer useful, but still beautiful in their own way.”

‘A huge honour’

There were more than 50 entries from Australian and international artists this year.

“It was completely unexpected — I’m over the moon,” he said.

“This year’s festival is a real knockout, so it’s a huge honour.”

Coming full circle

Dr Bennie did a Bachelor of Fine Art (Honours) at the Queensland College of Art (QCA) before completing his Doctorate in Visual Arts in 2009. He now juggles a thriving artistic practice with sessional teaching at the QCA.

“I had amazing mentors at the QCA who really helped shape my artistic practice and inspire me. I really love teaching, and it’s great to be able to give back to the next generation of artists coming through.”

This year, more than a quarter of a million people are expected to visit the exhibition at Currumbin Beach, which runs until Sunday 22 September.

For more information, see the Swell Sculpture Festival website.