Sand art is the practice of modelling sand into an artistic form either in lines, relief or in free standing three dimensional sculptures. Beaches around the world glorified by countless children showing their skills in the art of building sand castles, in many shapes and sizes can be a common example of sand art. However, building a sand castle is merely one type of beach art: there are some others, including sand sculpture, sand painting, sand drawing, sand mandalas and sand animations. Most of sand sculptures involve modelling the sand into a form of relief sculpture, or even a freestanding statue, by removing sand from the emerging artwork. Sand painting is different, in that the sand painter typically creates the artwork by adding sand. These art forms allow artists to create their art work within a short time frame.
Sand sculpting is the oldest form of sculpting in the world. The history of sand sculpting dates back to prehistoric times. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians produced a sand sculpture version of the pyramids. Most sand sculptures are created on sandy beaches where the two basic building ingredients, sand and water, are available in abundance. Tidal beaches generally have sand that limits height and structure because of the shape of the sand grains, much depends on the content and consistency of the sand used. Good sculpture sand is somewhat dirty, having silt and clay that helps lock the irregular-shaped sand grains together. The more silt and clay that the sand contains, the easier it is to create shapes that don’t collapse, and this type of sand allows sculptors to produce a huge range of reliefs or statues. Other than beaches sand pits are common for these sculptures. All types of tools and materials are used in these types of sculptures, and shapes may even be reinforced with internal struts or supports. Life of sand sculpture depends on various elements like, quality of sand, weather conditions, location or climate. Most outdoor sand Sculptures can last atleast for four to six months in moderate climate conditions, and sand sculptures built indoors can last for years, if untouched.
Sand painting is the art of pouring sand and powdered pigments from minerals or crystals, or pigments from other natural or synthetic sources onto a surface to make a fixed or unfixed sand painting. Unfixed sand paintings have an age-old cultural history in numerous social groups around the globe, and are often temporary. One general example of unfixed sand painting is the ritual paintings, prepared for religious or healing ceremonies. This form of art is also referred to as dry painting. One of India’s famous art form Rangoli is also a kind of sand painting originating in Indian subcontinent in which patterns are created on the floor using coloured sand. It is an everyday practice in Hindu households; however, the colours are preferred during festivals and other important celebrations. Rangoli designs can be simple geometric shapes, depictions of deities, or flower and petal shapes. Dry painting or unfixed sand painting is also practised by Native Americans in the Southwestern United States, mostly by Tibetan and Buddhist monks, as well as Indigenous Australians, and also by Latin Americans on certain Christian holy days.
There are many other forms sand painting practised around the globe including Indigenous Australian sand painting, Tibetan sand painting, Japanese tray pictures, Georgian sand painting, Victorian sand picture souvenirs and Senegal Sand bottles. These are mostly unfixed sand paintings and generally differ in style and cultural significance.
Sand drawing is an artistic and ritual tradition and practice of Vanuatu. It is recognised by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. UNESCO describes sand drawing as, “A rich and dynamic graphic tradition which has developed as a means of communication among the members of some 80 different language groups inhabiting the central and northern islands of Vanuatu. The drawings also function as mnemonic devices to record and transmit rituals, mythological lore and a wealth of oral information about local histories, cosmologies, kinship systems, song cycles, farming techniques, architectural and craft design, and choreographic patterns. Most sand drawings possess several functions and layers of meaning: they can be read as artistic works, repositories of information, illustration for stories, signatures, or simply messages and objects of contemplation.”Artists such as Pablo Picasso were known for drafting their visual ideas in the sand.
Milpatjunanyiis one of the interesting kinds of sand drawing which includes story telling. In the Pitjantjatjara dialect of North Central Australia, the word Milpatjunanyi means “the art of telling stories in the sand”. In this culture, the storytellers, often women, have a ritual approach to the process, using a stick that is first pressed against the body to create a connection, and also used as a drumstick to bring musical rhythm to the story. The sand drawing communication technique is also used in schools.
Sand mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from coloured sand. A sand mandala is ritualistically dismantled once it has been completed and its accompanying ceremonies and viewing are finished to symbolize the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life. Historically, the mandala was not created with natural, dyed sand, but granules of crushed coloured stone. In modern times, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with opaque inks to achieve the same effect. The monks use special, extremely dense sand in order to limit interference by things like wind or sneezes. Before laying down the sand, geometric measurements are drawn for the mandala. The sand grains are then applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, called chak-pur, until the desired pattern is achieved. Sand mandalas traditionally take several weeks to build due to the large amount of work involved in laying down the sand in such intricate detail. A team of monks work together on the project, they create one section of the diagram at a time and they start working from the centre outwards.
Sand animation is the most fascinating new art form to come around in decades. Sand animation is the manipulation of sand to create animation. In performance art an artist creates a series of images using sand, a process which is achieved by applying sand to a surface and then rendering images by drawing lines and figures in the sand with one’s hands. It is the art of storytelling that makes life and time flow by, right before your eyes. A sand animation performer uses the aid of an overhead projector or lightbox. To make an animated film sand is moved on a backlit or front lit piece of glass to create each frame. Techniques of animating with sand were pioneered by Caroline Leafin 1968.She created her first sand animated film, “Sand, or Peter and the Wolf” (1968), by dumping beach sand on a light box and manipulating the grains to create figures, textures and movements, frame by frame.