Local indigenous legend immortalised in SWELL sculpture

A stirring tribute to a local indigenous legend is providing northern Gold Coasters with a taste of the artistic splendor set to be unleashed at next month’s 17th annual SWELL Sculpture Festival.

Titled ‘Totem’, the imposing bust of Luther Cora by award-winning sculptor Ivan Lovatt has been unveiled at Helensvale Library and Cultural Centre as part of Northerly SWELL, which connects the famed Currumbin Beach exhibition with the northern end of the city.

Sculpted in chicken wire, the 1m tall artwork immortalises Mr Cora who is a traditional dancer, artist, performer, educator, leader and proud member of the Gold Coast’s Yugambeh language group.


‘Totem’ will remain at Helensvale until September 12 before making its way to Currumbin Beach for Queensland’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibition from September 13-22.

Mr Lovatt, who credits his People’s Choice Award at the 2004 SWELL Sculpture Festival as a turning point in his artistic career, said it was a privilege and honor to be invited by event co-founder Natasha Edwards to create the tribute to the indigenous icon.

“It was exactly the kind of project I was looking for – a portrait of someone with such an interesting background, look and features,” said Mr Lovatt, who has won five People’s Choice Awards at the hugely popular event since his debut in 2004.

“My intention was to capture Luther’s pride, dignity and power. I had done some work with Aboriginal culture but nothing to this degree and I’m pleased to say that Luther is very happy with the sculpture.

“I hope the portrait honours the significance, importance and sovereignty of Australia’s first people and it is offered in the spirit of reconciliation.”

Launched six years ago, Northerly SWELL is a collaboration with City of Gold Coast Division 2 that spreads the celebration of art, culture and community to both ends of the Gold Coast and provides visitors with a glimpse of what they can expect when the main event hits town next month.

Division 2 Councillor William Owen-Jones said ‘Totem’ was the perfect piece to showcase the magic of sculpture to both lovers of the artform and newcomers.

“Ivan has an incredible talent for his craft and we are thrilled his latest creation will have pride of place at Helensvale Library and Cultural Centre during Northerly SWELL,” he said.

“We founded this free event to not only allow northern locals to get up close to such impressive works but celebrate how public art can excite, tell stories and leave a mark on both a community and its people.

“This artistic celebration of the remarkable Luther Cora ticks all those boxes and I’m sure it will have many people looking forward to next month’s SWELL Sculpture Festival.”

For more information, visit swellsculpture.com.au