SWELL Sculpture Festival has a long history of exhibiting innovative works by emerging artists, and this years’ crop is certainly poised to uphold the tradition. With only a couple of weeks until the Currumbin foreshore is once again transformed into a spectacular outdoor gallery, we got a sneak peek at ‘Sandy Sundays’, a fabric sculpture representing the evolution of Australian beach culture from the early 1900s to now. Artist and designer Kannitha Ly gave as an insight into her inspirations for the work.
“The concept of ‘Sandy Sundays’ was initially inspired by the bathing pavilions and bathing boxes of the Gold Coast and the role that these structures played in Australian beach culture and the realisation of the Gold Coast as a leisure destination,” she explains.
“During society’s conservative past, the bathing pavilions in particular provided a means that allowed the public to enjoy the beach.”
The idea of the beach as the epitome of the Australian character was not always present. With public bathing on the beach once only permitted for men, and strict rules around beach attire for women in place, bathing boxes and bathing pavilions played quite a role in the realisation of tourism as a commodity of the Gold Coast and contributed to a sense of liberation for beach-goers. Kannitha has attempted to capture the sense of people and their experiences past and present through the use of recycled clothing.
“I felt that clothes that had once been worn has an inherent story and embodies the presence of its past owner. The clothes also reference the bathing regulations of the past which inhibited what was once considered indecent exposure.
“Sourcing recycled clothing by scouring through op-shops as well as combining the pieces of clothing together was time consuming, yet enjoyable. Forming the frame for the fabric posed the greatest challenge in the project.”
A first time exhibitor at SWELL, Kannitha has found the process both daunting and exciting.
“One of the great things about the SWELL Sculpture Festival is the outdoor aspect. It offers an opportunity for all to enjoy the pleasures of art in a familiar and playful environment,” she tells us.
“I’m honoured to be taking part in Swell this year, especially since it is a Gold Coast based exhibition which is where I have lived for the majority of my adult life.
“’Sandy Sundays’ is a small piece in my evolving artistic journey,” Kannitha continues.
“I enjoy working with fabric and appreciate the lightness, tangibility and movement that it creates. I am still experimenting and feel that the choice of materials, techniques and forms that I use varies depending on the particular concept. The conceptual idea behind the artwork is what drives the visual outcome of my work.”
Given the conceptually-driven nature of the piece, I wonder what Kannitha’s hopes are in terms of the audience takeaway.
“I hope that people will be able to appreciate the subtleties of the beach – the feeling of the sand, the sun, the smell and the calm; and reflect on the journey that has contributed to what the beach culture on the Gold Coast is today.”
Catch Kannitha Ly’s ‘Sandy Sundays’ when SWELL Sculpture Festival takes over Currumbin Beach from 14-23 September 2018. Visit swellsculpture.com.au for more.
IMAGE (c) Lamp Photography