From large events to spontaneous solo creations, sand art at Watergate Bay goes back as long as we can remember – and most likely centuries before. Transient masterpieces eked out over many hours, erased by the tide in moments. Professional artists to children, activists to casual beachgoers – the vast expanse of smooth sand invites everyone to play at making their mark.
Sand in your eye
On 10 June 2021, arts organisation, Sand in Your Eye joined forces with the non-profit organisation Avaaz. Leaders of the G7 were drawn in the sand with the message "Share the vaccine. Waive the patents
Avaaz is an international non-profit organisation that lobbied the world leaders attending the G7 summit to waive the patents on Covid-19 vaccines. The message was to make them available more widely and become accessible to people in developing countries.
Does the inevitability of the tide’s advance make it more special? For acclaimed landscape artist Tony Plant, it’s all about appreciating the moment in a place of beauty. “I do it so it disappears – its transience is part of it,” he explains. “I love watching it disappear as the tide comes up and the sea starts taking slices out of it. It looks like the waning moon.
I did one at Portreath a few years ago and someone came up to me as I was sitting watching the tide come up afterwards and said, ‘I’ve never watched the tide come in before.’ I thought it was brilliant, that my piece encouraged them to sit and watch the tide. So often we rush around and take things for granted.”
Tony positively encourages everyone to have a go, emphasising how natural and easy it is, with no secrets or special techniques. “What I do is no different from what kids everywhere do on beaches,” he says. “Everyone does it, or did it – it’s just that I’ve never stopped.” There really is no right or wrong way, he maintains; just have a go and see what happens.
Why not come and cast the first stroke?
Getting started: a few pointers
- A rake creates a bigger, bolder line that can be seen from further away – but you can also use sticks or just your hands or feet to draw lines.
- Rearrange rocks, seaweed or shells if you want some extra texture and colour.
- Avoid really wet sand as your lines will fill in too quickly. Very dry sand can also be hard work.
- Make the most of natural features in the landscape like large rocks. “If you trace the outline shadow of a rock every 15 minutes for a few hours, you’ll get a really interesting grid pattern,” says Tony.
- Share your pictures! We’d love to see your creations – use #watergatebaysandart and tag us @watergatebay and we’ll pull our favourites into a collaborative online gallery.
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