Five artists in the running for Gold Coast’s first major public art installation

Five artists have been announced as finalists for City of Gold Coast’s Urban Oasis project. The project will see a major public art installation smack bang in the middle of Surfers Paradise.

An independent jury, chaired by Robyn Archer AO selected the finalists out of a local, national and international pool of more than 50 submissions, where local entries numbered a quarter of entries.

Robyn Archer AO is the City’s Arts and Culture Strategic Advisor. She applauded the high calibre of applicants.

“We were so happy to find so many terrific artists had made the effort to apply and similarly delighted by the stimulating concepts they had offered,” Ms Archer said.

The finalists include Alex Pentek, Buchan Group, Brian Robinson, Dr Chris Bennie and Kuuki. All five have been invited to further develop their designs.

Robyn said the project will help bring art and culture into the public eye in a very visible and accessible way.

“Unless you actually drive down Bundall road and see the Arts Centre and recognise it as such or drive past a little gallery at Broadbeach, there’s very, very little public art.”

“One of the functions of this project, is the presence of art in a very busy precinct,” Robyn told Blank GC.


“Public art provokes the question, what’s going on here?”


“It’s always nice and provocative and stimulates thought, which in my opinion is what art’s all about.”

Robyn said that the art being placed in the middle of Surfers Paradise signals a big change for the Gold Coast – the first step in a plan for a new cultural corridor.

“It will lead over the Chevron Island bridge and then a green bridge over to the cultural precinct,” she explained.

“Really, what we’re talking about is if you come on the light rail, that would be the artistic beginning of a trail you’d be encourage to follow.”

The five artists selected as finalists are:

  • Alex Pentek, an Irish Sculptor who has represented Ireland at Ten Days on the Island, an international arts festival in Hobart in 2007. He brings 19 years’ experience to the design competition.
  • The Buchan Group, a Gold Coast based architecture firm with global projects. With an office just around the corner from where the piece will be installed, their previous design work includes Hilton, Q1 and works at Sydney’s Vivid Festival.
  • Brian Robinson, a Cairns based artist who has delivered significant public art installations – in Brisbane, Mackay, Cairns and Port Douglas.
  • Dr Chris Bennie, a Gold Coast artist working with Urban Art Projects. Dr Bennie has won acclaim for his work at Swell Sculpture Festival and most recently took out Brisbane’s Clayton Utz art prize.
  • Priscilla Bracks and Gavin Sade, are Brisbane artists who collaborate as design studio Kuuki, bringing traditional art forms such as sculpture, illustration, photography and fashion, together with digital technologies.


Urban Oasis will be installed later this year at the intersection of Surfers Paradise Boulevard and Elkhorn Avenue. It signifies the pivot point between Surfers Paradise as a precinct and the city’s cultural heart in Evandale.

The jury, a cross section of industry and stakeholder representatives, will select the winning entry for endorsement by Council with an announcement expected by June 2016.


Feature image:  Chris Bennie, The Kissing Swans 2013, lood-affected caravan, video, sound, 7 x 2 x 2 m. Installation view Swell Sculpture Festival, Currumbin Beach 2013. Image courtesy the artist


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