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We spent five wonderful sunny days being part of the natural art Twisted Festival in Barnsley. To celebrate the Queens Platinum Jubilee, we were asked to sculpt a ‘colossal’ 20 tonne sand sculpture of a lion in the Glass Works Square and provide two days of sand workshops that the public could access free during the celebratory weekend.  

Day one of this project involved a massive amount of digging, shoveling, and stomping to compact the huge sand structure. Jamie, Dunc, and Dave all got their hands dirty and backs aching whilst doing this job and Chris, our new team member who’s first time it was on a compaction job told us “it’s the hardest physical work I have ever done in my life”. Luckily, it hasn’t seemed to put him off!

‘It’s the hardest physical work I have done in my life”

Sustenance was provided thankfully in the form of fantastically huge Doboy donuts and some good strong coffees from fantastic café nearby Coffee Boy. The lovely staff at the coffee shop got used to refilling our reusable mugs with much needed coffee and had a little giggle at our sandy and tired faces whilst we got excited over the donuts and drinks.

Day two Dave and Jamie blocked out the sand, here the sculpture starts to take a more obvious form but in block shapes.

Minecraft lion

On day three is when the excitement really begins as Jamie starts to carve out the lion in more detail from the head. This is when the public really engage, the magic of watching a sculptor/artist at work, turning something that’s a usual, every day, uninteresting material into something new, exciting and full of life.  It’s that opportunity of the public getting to watch and be part of the creative journey together with the sculptor that really gives power to the product. 

During days 4 and 5 whilst Jamie set to work on the lion’s body and added realistic detail, team members Jocasta and Chris held sand sculpture workshops nearby that the public could access for free. 

Sunny day and sand play

The weather was beautifully sunny and with the water fountains on in the square right next to the sand tables it felt like a proper holiday. 

Families and people of all ages enjoyed the workshops, staying for hours at a time and many even returning the next day. Toddlers played in the smaller sand tables making artistic mounds, sand ice creams and princess towers with feather duster flags to top. Whilst on the Larger tables Chris and Jocasta were on hand to help people make sand turtles, sharks, castle’s, explosive volcanos anything they wanted. Adults tend think the workshops are for the children but once they are shown a few techniques they are surprised to see how actively they get involved and how exciting it can be. 

The lion ‘Rory’, as he was named by the locals stayed in place watching over Barnsley for just over a week after he was finished by Jamie. 


We really enjoyed working with ‘Twisted Festival’ and particularly Mark and Matt from Barnsley Council who provided much friendliness and support to our team whilst we were there.

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