“What’s the weather forecast like for tomorrow Tom?” I was on the train and was coming back from the airport from Ireland, I’d been working for some Irish friends in the making of a sand sculpture.
“Well it’s predicted for heavy rain Jamie.” I was forlorn as this wasn’t good news. “There is rain in the morning but it seems to clear in the early part of the day only to start again in the evening. Shall we go ahead with it?” The train was rattling away and echoing the process going on inside my head. Should I get over a dozen artists to drive for hours to a remote beach at the crack of dawn on the off chance that the experiment may be rained off.
“I think it will be OK, let’s go for it.” Then all the messages were sent. “It’s on.”
It rained heavily during the journey the next day but then a welcomed blue sky began to peel back the clouds to reveal bristling sunshine, although not warm enough to dull the chilling wind of April 2007. We descended upon the beach and I began to give instructions on the new method of drawing in sand which I had recently devised to make drawing much faster. This was a typical scenario as each time I do a drawing I am always pushing boundaries and developing the technique. The drawing that we were to make was extremely ambitious, six times the size of our first drawing only one year previous.
“We need two small teams, Mark you can be the drawer in one team. Who wants to be Marks personal raker?” This is the person that follows the Drawer and then fills in the details with the rake. A very catchy job title if I do say so myself; one for the C.V. “We can then have general rakers who will rake the sand en masse.” Not so good for the CV.
Everyone got primed to be ready whilst I directed from the top of the cliff, barking down the walkie talkie and giving instructions only to find that two didn’t work. Batteries. Lots of shouting and arm waving then became the norm. Always in these drawings it seems so complicated at first that there is a general lull before things get going, as nobody really has any idea what they are doing, but as the magic begins to take hold the image moves forward like a wave on the rocks, washing the confused expressions from my friends faces. It begins with a lot of talking, people are making sure of their position and technique. But after a while all goes quiet as their concentrated gaze becomes focussed on the end of their tool, whether it is a drawing stick, a rake, or a piece of string, the only noise is the seas mumblings, gently reminding us that it is coming and that we do not have much time left. We begin drawing patterns in the sand with the knowledge that we are joined in this seemingly fruitless pursuit by many others, all working towards the same goal, each person indispensible.
So why do it? All that effort and aching backs just to produce a piece of art that by the time it is finished is ready to be erased by our great Mother. I am not actually sure why. But what I do know is that it feels fantastic, there is an unreal sense of euphoria amongst the group as we have made something special that needed every one of us for it to be. All the more special as it is fleeting, a moment caught in time for us to remember. It is almost worth it just to see the expressions of the people taking their Sunday walk along the cliff only to see that below them where there should only be a beach, there is a drawing in the sand.
On the 14th March this year, we will be making another drawing in Whitby, North Yorkshire, if you want to join us let me know, it will be an early start, from 8am until 12:30. But this one will be an animated abstraction that grows from a seed and dances to music. I leave you with this, the concept for the drawing:
“An idea is like a seed. If you do not nourish it then at best it will stay with you forever but come to nothing, at worst it will rot from your imagination and be gone from the world forever…… But if you feed it,…. then it may grow beyond all imagining.” A seed is placed in a ball of earth and then thrown from the cliff onto the beach. It explodes, and then the drawing begins….