Sand Art

the bergs1I’ve got to admit, I’ve recently become a convert to sand art. I used to think it was just a spade & bucket summertime beach activity, but now that I have been to some of these ‘Sandy Arts Festivals’, I’m a convert.

All over the world, on some of the greatest international beaches, annual sand sculpture competitions are held. Apparently, the sand used in these exhibitions is not really from the beach. The sculptures use a heavier sand often known as “brickies sand” which is different to beach sand because each grain is square, so it sticks together better. This installation from 2013 is called “The Bergs”.

From the bottom to the top – NOT! If you thought they started carving from the bottom of the pile and worked their way to the top – you are wrong. Sculptors use these bottom layers to climb to the top. They remove the wooden form-work from around the top layer and start carving. When finished the top layer, they move down to the next until they reach the bottom. There is no scaffolding or ladders used.

under the seaThis piece is by Kevin Crawford – called “Under the Sea. “  The first verse is: “If we peer beneath the rolling waves, what wonders we will see. O creatures large and creatures small and some who puff into a ball. All living together “under the sea”. Kevin was born in the United States and is a self-described ‘nomadic sand gypsy’. Kevin, a former architect, has been a professional sand sculptor for over 30 years and has won over 11 World Championships.

mechanical whale1This is Jaap Tichler’s – “Mechanical Whale” sculpture. This Dutchman trained as an engineer and turned his hobby into a career in back in 2002. He travels Europe attending competitions, creating corporate installations and teaches sand sculpting in workshops for adults and children.

battlefish2Jakub Zimacek and Leo Vamvalis created this sculpture which is based on the video game- Battlefish. Leo began sand sculpting in 2000 on the beaches of Rye. He has competed in Australia and Singapore. Jakub, 32, was born in the former Czech Republic. Jakub started sand-sculpting on the beaches of southern Spain in 2004.

octopus garden-1Joris Kivits designed “Octopus Garden” which is based on The Beatles song “Octopus’s Garden” written by Ringo Starr for 1969 their “Abbey Road” album. Joris is a Dutch sculptor who started out in 2006, after having worked as a freelance graphic designer and photographer in his ‘previous’ life.


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Michaela Ciappini is responsible for this sculpture called “The Bergs.”  Michaela is from Portugal and completed five years study at Art Institute studying decoration then attended the Art Academy in Bologna. Michaela has been carving sand since 2003 and also carves in ice – perhaps that’s in winter-time.

theDeadSeaSusanne Ruseler has sculpted this piece “The Dead Sea” which  features sea witches who are sometimes referred to as ‘phantoms’ or ‘ghosts’  who had the power to control ships and seamen. Susanne is a Dutch sculptor who started in carving in 2003 whilst studying Biology.  Susanne also uses snow, ice, foam and concrete. In 2012, she travelled to Portugal, Spain, Japan, Italy, The Netherlands, England, Belgium, Florida USA and Ontario, Canada for sand sculpting competitions.

seaport village2Jino van Bruinessen and Peter Redmond sculpted this mega structure – “Seaport Village.” Peter had a background in graphic design and illustration before he started carving in sand as a junior at Sand Sculpting Australia’s 2006 event at Rye. Jino came to Australia over 30 years ago from The Netherlands and lives in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. Jino started work as a prop-maker and sculptor/scenic artist for film and TV. A one-off sand sculpture in 1992 led to a series of annual events. Now Jino works for Sand Sculpting Australia.

mermaids3Karen Fralich’s Mermaids come from Greek mythology, where they were associated with the Sirens or femme-fatales whose enchanting voices drew sailors onto the rocks of their island shipwrecking them. Canadian Karen began her sculpting career in 1983 at the age of 14 in a pottery studio in Ontario. In 1998 she entered her first international sand contest and by 2001 was working full-time as a freelance sculptor. Karen is a four time world champion and five time North American champion and the only woman to ever win the solo world championships.

sign of the seahorse4This is a detail from Brad Goll’s – “The Sign of the Seahorse Cafe.”  It is also the title of a popular children’s storybook written and illustrated by Graeme Base, who also wrote Animalia and The Eleventh Hour. Published in 1992 “The Sign of the Seahorse” involves Reef Town PearlTrout, Corporal Bert the Soldier Crab and Pearl’s brother Finneus. American Brad is another nomadic life-styler in the world of professional sand-sculpting. His career began on the beaches of California in 1985.

20000 leagues under the sea1Baldrick Buckle has taken on the challenge to recreate Jules Verne’s 1870 classic “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.” The story revolves around Captain Nemo and his submarine Nautilus who travel 20,000 leagues  under the sea as distance travelled, not depth.  Baldrick was born in Yorkshire in the UK and calls both London and Amsterdam, home. As a musician and artist, he studied Fine Arts and ran his own sand-sculpting company Sandaholics Anonymous. He is also a key member of ‘Flat World Thinking,’ a freelance creative think-tank specializing in corporate innovation and marketplace expansion.

poseidon7This duel effort by Martijn Rijerse and Hanneke Supply is a familiar underwater world recreation of –Poseidon. Poseidon is the God of the Sea; Son of Cronous and Rhea. His siblings were Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Zeus. Sailors relied on Poseidon for a safe voyage across the seas. Martijn is a Dutch carver and has been working with sand since 1996 beginning on Schevenigen beach near Amsterdam.  He graduated as an architect working in sand, ice, concrete and foam. Hanneke was born in Bruge, Belgium and started sand-sculpting as a hobby while studying in 2002. Prior to that she was working in an architecture office.

dolphin dance1Tasmanian born artist and mother of two Meg Murray has put together this piece entitled “Dolphin Dance.” Meg grew up in an artists family. She studied art at Hellyer College in Tasmania and Claremont School of Art, in Perth. Meg began sand-sculpting 13 years ago and was the 2012 Australian Sand Sculpting Champion.


atlantisOf course we would not be complete without this recreation of the fabled underwater city of “Atlantis” which has been stunningly sculpted by the duo Sandis Kondis and Sue McGrew. The Greek islands of Crete or Santorini, the Azores, Madeira or Canary Islands have often been mentioned as being the fictitious land mentioned by Plato, the Greek philosopher as a backdrop for two of his dialogues Timeous and Critias. Sandis was born in Latvia in 1980 and has been studying art since the age of 9. Sandis has a Masters Degree in sculpture from the Art Academy of Latvia (2006). His work can be found in many public and private art collections across Europe. He met U.S. sculptor, Sue McGrew in 2009 at an art festival in Portugal where they both fell in love. Since then they have travelled together around the world sharing their passion in art, love and peace.

shipwreck6Fred Dobbs has recreated some booty in his piece entitled – “Shipwrecks. ” According to statistics provided by the United Nations there are more than 3 million shipwrecks on the world’s ocean floors. Canadian Fred studied fine arts at Victoria College of Art and commercial art of Comosun College in the late 1970s and hit the beach sculpting craze in early 1980s. He exhibits in Canada, US, Australia, Japan, Germany, Mexico and Taiwan.

reefbuilders3Australian duo Jim McCauley and Kevin Crawford combined to produce “The Reef Builders.”  Jim McCauley lives and works in Rye in Victoria Australia. He helps run Sand Sculpting Australia workshops.

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