SWELL artist profile: Conrad Johnsson | Timmy

Usually designing specialised installations for shopping centres and fancy apartment buildings in New York, Conrad Johnsson and the team at Yellow Goat Design are bringing Timmy to Swell especially for the kids. “This… is Timmy,” he said, pointing to a picture of a large plywood sheep with two kids crawling through it.

“That’s the great thing with swell, you see all the kids really interact with the pieces. Kids love it just as much as parents do.”

“We started 15 years ago,” he says of the company, “doing more sculptural and custom-made lighting, quite international with a lot of work in the Middle East. But we’ve been trying to branch out in different areas. A couple of years ago we started to play around with sculpture for kids. A lot of shopping centres got interested in this. So we started to develop a whole range for our own interest, using plywood, mainly. It’s just as much for the adults as it is for the kids.”

“I grew up in Europe – and there especially you can’t photograph anything, you can’t touch anything,” he said, speaking of formal art institutions, galleries and exhibitions. Swell is so much different to that. “It’s just the whole atmosphere – you can walk around, bring some food. It’s a great community event and you get to see some great artwork. I really enjoy the interactive part of it – you can walk up and touch the sculptures and feel them.”

Conrad considers himself a designer rather than an artist and the company he designs for Yellow Goat Design, is a family business based in Southport. They’re currently working on a life-sized stegosauras which will be shipped and installed in a New York apartment building before Christmas. It’s 3m high x 13m long. As well as being designed here, it’s fabricated by their team in Southport, where they employ up to 30 or 40 staff depending on what projects they have on the boil. They’ve done elephants, crocodiles, tractors and soon, a life size blue whale.

“In Australia you have to make your own opportunities,” Conrad said.

 

What’s so cool about Swell?

Getting all the locals out to enjoy the vibe and the art – on the beach!

 

Image: LAMP Photography

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