Most people's first encounter with sand sculpture is seeing people busking with it on the shores of the Mediterranean and so for some it has the appearance that we are all just beggers trying to score a bit of money by playing with sand and it is a fair assumption. Although, I didn't start sand sculpture this way I know it is a honorable pursuit and one of the routes to what I do. From those humble beginnings sand sculpture has grown into a profession for many and although the public don't give us tips directly they do pay to see our work. Unfortunately I think the 'Real' art world will never look beyond this origin story.
There are many projects around the world that honor us as professionals but now and again we come in contact with an organiser who thinks he can get away with treating us as crusty hippies.
For this project in Oberhausen, Germany we had one such organiser that from day one really didn't appreciate us sculptors. He had four of us sleeping to a room, the sand which he had provided us to carve with was a cheap as he could find without thinking of carving quality and the food he provided was stale and gone off. You could feel the atmosphere on the project suffered because of it but as professionals we tried our best to create nice sculptures for him.
The A Team
I was given a project with Ludo Roders to make a sculpture based on the continent of Asia. There was a design to go by, which was one that the organiser took from another project without the designers permission. Everything about this project was as cheap as chips He thought that word would not get around about his stinginess.
For our sculpture it just involved creating a montage of many different iconic elements as possible in the one pile of sand. As with any good sculptors we threw away the design and instead tried to make it more special and to our own liking.
We still tried to add all the elements but redesigned the composition to be more interesting and balanced.
The sand was really rough and as you can see for this closeup the grains really dictated how far we could go with the details. We had one chance to cut the straight lines of the petronas Towers as to do any more resolving would flake away the dusty surface. I am very surprised we were able to keep them standing even with the supporting sculptures we added.
The Buddha was a nice addition as he was a big form to give support to the structure. With sand sculpture it is a continuing balance between artist design and structural integrity.
Ludo made the two nice figures on either side adding more support and creating a nice framing for the rest of the sculpture. I think they were based on some puppets from Indonesian . She then made the dragons head and I worked down his back with the great wall of China for his spine.
We also worked a bit on the sculptures left to join it to the next scene. Here we made a Tiger and some grass. this blended quite well to the African scene beside us.
Even though the sand was awful to work with and our detail reflected this I was very happy with how it all worked out. The roughness of the sand made the whole thing really look like a sculpture made of sand, which strangely enough it was.
A unbelievable Scolding
None of the carvers liked the organiser and his attitude towards us. He was really not a nice guy to chat or socialise with, I must say that the way he treated us made certain of that.
Then a strange thing happened. He invited us all to take a break so that he could give us ice-creams. We were shocked, maybe he had seen the error in his ways and wanted to make amends but, no. Once he had use all together he talked to us like children and scolded us for being mean to him and about complaining that we had to eat food that was leftovers of leftovers. We nearly chocked on our ice-creams. Some of the more out spoken among us set him straight, that this is not how you treat your workers and that if he wanted us to lick his boots he had another thing coming.
Even though we were working for a shyster the project actually came together very well. The sculptures looked pretty good considering all the crap we had to deal with. I suppose that is what being professional is all about, even in the face of adversity you do the best you can.
I hope you'll join me again soon
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