Meet the Artist Using Recycled Timber at the SWELL Festival

Wood has lots of applications, it's just like having a 3D canvas

Fri 08 Sep 23


The Currumbin beach is alive, with over 80 outdoor exhibits stretching across the famous Gold Coast beaches.

Starting today, September 8 and running until September 17, the Swell Sculpture Festival is Queensland’s largest open-air art show.

Backed by the Queensland State Government and the Gold Coast City Council, “there is literally nothing quite like it anywhere in the world,” according to Tom Tate, the local mayor.

And according to Natasha Edwards, the show “come of age”.

Ms Edwards is the co-founder and artistic director of the festival, which is now celebrating its 21st year.

Last year, the Swell Sculpture Festival celebrated 20 years. Footage courtesy of @SwellSculpture.

Edwards received a record number of entries this year, with the large-scale sculptures to be spread along a one-kilometre stretch of the beach.

“The coastal landscape provides an ideal backdrop for sculptures,” Edwards said.

Among this year’s entries include Dave Hickson – a talented sculptor from the Northern Rivers in NSW.

I first met Dave three years ago, before the launch of his collaborative project, “At Home.”

One of Dave Hickson’s sculptures is made from recycled and reclaimed local timber species.

Dave is a recipient of the prestigious Julian Beaumont Sculpture Prize and works out of his studio in Ocean Shores.

He is renowned for using sculpture, photography and drawing to research concepts expressed in figuration and abstraction.

This year, he is exhibiting plovers made from reclaimed and recycled local timbers from a discarded bed base.

The sculpture’s inspiration was the devasting floods ravaging northern NSW just over 18 months ago.

“Following the unprecedented floods, a pair of plovers nestled beside our local canal squawked and flapped around in the night as the rising flood waters engulfed their eggs,” he said.

“It is a microcosm of the disaster that unfolded in our region…and we need to do all we can to prevent the worst extremes of our client.”

Dave Hickson’s 2023 installation at Swell Sculpture Festival on the Gold Coast.

Dave, the son of Wood Central Southeast Asia Contributor Ken Hickson, is recognised as a wood construction expert.

  • You can view Dave’s portfolio on Instagram.

“Wood has lots of applications,” he said, “whether carving or construction, it’s fun and inspiring to use, and when it comes to creative expression, it has intensive qualities unmatched by any other material.”

“It’s just like having a 3D canvas to work on.”

Most of Dave’s materials are sourced from salvaged timber or recycled furniture.

“These come from various woods, including western red cedar or hoop pine,” he said.

As well as the main exhibition at Currumbin, this year’s festival includes art installations on Chevron Island, at Helensvale Cultural Centre, Pacific Fair, Gold Coast Airport and Oasis Shopping Centre.

Artists are competing for $40,000 in cash awards and bursaries.

Swell Sculpture Festival 2023 runs from September 8 to 17. See the full program here.


  • Jason Ross

    Jason Ross, publisher, is a 15-year professional in building and construction, connecting with more than 400 specifiers. A Gottstein Fellowship recipient, he is passionate about growing the market for wood-based information. Jason is Wood Central's in-house emcee and is available for corporate host and MC services.


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