Mystery creature a winner for Ipswich artist

The Black Dragonfish in all her glory at Swell on the Gold Coast.
The Black Dragonfish in all her glory at Swell on the Gold Coast.

A LOCAL artist has taken out the Emerging Artist award at this year's Swell festival on the Gold Coast, all thanks to a giant black dragonfish.

Sean Williams, from Gailes, is a father of two who has spent more than 500 hours in the past few months putting together The Huntress, an artwork that was entered in the popular outdoor sculpture exhibition, that he has visited for many years.

A total of 60 artists from all around the world entered the competition that drew 275,000 visitors over the school holidays, all who viewed the collection of outdoor works at Currumbin Beach.

By day, Williams spends his time helping to create artworks for artists using 3D software and bringing his experience as a welder to the fore, but it was his love of the Swell Exhibition that for the first time saw him come up with an idea that would earn him the Emerging Artist award.

"We've been going to Swell as a family for the past five years," Williams said.

"My kids are 3 and 4 years old so they've only known holidays at the Gold Coast, seeing the artworks.

"It's such an incredible location, and seeing all those artworks along the beach, open 24 hours a day is really inspiring, so I decided to enter this year."

Williams started to research creatures that create their own lighting, known as bioluminescent, and found the black dragonfish, a creature that uses light to attract prey, and lives on average 1km below the water's surface.

"The best thing about the sculptures is that many of them at night are lit up, so I wanted to build it and have lighting inside," Williams said.

"It took around 500 hours of work to get it constructed and with time running out had planned to use fibre optics, but it wasn't working out.


Sean Williams works on his art piece at his home studio
Sean Williams works on his art piece at his home studio

"I was able to get the hardware working relatively easily but my problem came when trying to figure out the code to drive the lighting patterns.

"I simply didn't have enough time to build the sculpture and learn how to write code within the time restraints. In desperation, I decided to email directly the creator of the code, Andrew Tuline, not knowing who he was or where he was from.

"I attached a few images of the incomplete sculpture and to my surprise he replied and told me he would look over my code and offer me any advice he could give."



The metalwork is done, now it just needs the lighting.
The metalwork is done, now it just needs the lighting.

It turns out that Mr Tuline lived in Canada, and gave up hours of his own time to help out a complete stranger on the other side of the world to finish his piece.

In the end, it all paid off, with Williams winning the award with his first entry.


Sean Williams
Sean Williams

"It was amazing to win the award, and especially as it was my first exhibition. Now the piece sits in my shed, and I'm thinking about adding things to it.

"Much of my work is in some way similar to that of H.R. Giger, the man who created the monster in the Alien movies, and I did reference him as an influence when I put in the proposal. I'm a huge fan of the movies and his work," Williams said.

"My kids have seen it all come together and when we were on the coast they'd run up to people and say 'That's my daddy's sculpture'.

"I have to thank my partner Ziggi for allowing me the time to work on it, she was fantastic.

"I guess I'm going to have to spoil her rotten over Christmas to make up for those 500 hours I spent in the shed."

Topics:  art art awards sculpture

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