Meet Melissa Carey. She’s pretty swell.

Ethereal and enigmatic in concept, but in reality grounded in tough materials and great deal of sweat, Melissa Carey’s arts practice is not a simple one to pigeonhole. She is bringing her unique perspective to September’s SWELL Sculpture Festival, alongside a plethora of talented established artists and exciting new talent on the Currumbin foreshore this September.

Her SWELL piece ‘The Spiral of Life’ is heavily reflective of her recent practice, incorporating as it does the spirals that occur in nature and giving them otherworldly placements. Melissa herself describes spirals as “transmission of energy, radiating out and drawing in, infinitely and eternally.”

We had a chat to this fascinating artist ahead of her very first showing at the beloved Gold Coast arts festival.

Has the move from Sydney to the Gold Coast changed your work at all?

I wouldn’t say it’s changed my work, it’s definitely improved my mental health. In Sydney the rat race got a bit much for me. I prefer living more in nature and it helps create more peace in my life. And I definitely make more art.

I understand this is the fourth piece in your spiral series. What are some of the unique challenges you face putting together a piece of that size and shape, and what have you learned through creating the series?

This will be the biggest and most challenging spiral sculpture that I’ve made so far, because it’s out of steel and it’ll be 4 metres. It means that I’m upscaling my welding skills, because I’m welding it all myself, and I love a challenge.

The first two were timber, definitely learnt a lot building the first one, and it’s made it a lot easier to recreate the same design, but in a different material. Each one has its own set of challenges.

Why are you so in love with spirals?

They just have a lot of meaning for me, they represent the flow of energy and life itself, forward and backwards through time. Yet they’re timeless. Nature always inspires me, I’m always looking at spirals in nature, and our DNA, and I’ve been previously in my textile works I’ve been doing lots of macrame knotting which is also spirals.

How do you want audiences to feel when they look at your piece?

The artwork is essentially a bit of a portal into another world and so when you look through the spiral you’ll be able to see where the ocean meets the sky, so it’s a combination of different elements and I just hope that people will be inspires and moved by the artwork.

You teach art. What is something you ALWAYS say to students, no matter what?

Everyone is creative. Everyone has their own unique form of expressing creativity.

Can you name any of your favourite local artists?

Irene Messia. Her works are stunning, I feel super inspired by her. Just beautiful.

How are you feeling now that SWELL is just around the corner?

It’s my first time, and I’m super excited to be part it. Art is such an important part of our culture, to me. Art helps us to see the beauty in the world, and to and art invokes different feelings and emotions for us which can often inspire us.

Follow @artistmelissacarey for more. 

  • The main SWELL Sculpture Festival runs on Currumbin Beach from 10 to 19 September, with workshops, artist talks, guided sculpture walks, SWELL Kids Elements and much more on offer.
  • Community events include westerlySWELL and northerlySWELL which run from 1 to 19 September, and easterlySWELL which runs from 10 September.
  • SWELL Small Gallery runs at Dust Temple Currumbin from 5 to 19 September.
  • Visit swellsculpture.com.au for more

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