Sands of time

Sandcastles are so last year, as Charlotte Pearson finds out in Brighton.

Walking along a British beach it is not unusual to spot a sandcastle created using the humble bucket and spade, sometimes complete with moat. In fact, it is probably a very well-known sight on many beaches around the globe.

257C0555But what about stumbling upon the Great Sphinx of Giza, the leaning tower of Pisa or a samurai warrior created entirely from sand?

This is definitely something out of the ordinary and no mean feat unless you happen to be in Brighton.

Until September 28 visitors to Madeira Drive can take a walk through seven continents and get their picture with some of the most famous landmarks in the world without even leaving Sussex.
“We are hugely excited about the festival,” sand artist and CBBC’s Deadly Art presenter Nicola Wood explains. “It is a fantastic family event with something for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
“Hopefully locals and holiday-makers alike will come to the exhibition and enjoy everything it has to offer.”

Which is plenty. Alongside the sculptures there are workshops, live demonstrations, unique photo opportunities, a children’s sandpit, café, gift shop and a lot more.
“Of course there will be all sorts on offer for visitors but we also aim to work very closely with the community,” adds co-organiser Alec Messchaert, a sculptor since 1999.
“We want to work with local businesses, schools and organisations. We learned a lot from the visitors in 2013, which meant we were ready to make 2014 bigger and better in every way.”

This year’s sculptures are all centred on the theme of ‘Around the World’.

Previous years have included fairy tales, music, jungle, Great Britain and the ocean.



“The theme is chosen by suggestions from previous years’ visitors, so you never know, you could suggest a great theme and it may even be chosen for next year,” Antonia Phillips from the Sand Sculpture Festival reveals.

With a sandy beach of its own and a dynamic community, Brighton seemed the natural choice to host the event for another year.
“Brighton is such a vibrant, cultural city,” Nicola agrees, “and I couldn’t wait to kick off the 2014 festival.”

A sculptor for the last eight years, Nicola’s work has seen her travel all over the world.

Alongside organising exhibitions and festivals she still finds time to carve using not only sand but snow and ice.

She is also award-winning having won gold at the 2007 and 2010 World Sand Sculpting Championships.

With her many connections, through networking and appearances at events, she has the chance to meet and work alongside other world class champions, who are then invited to take part.

This year sculptors include Rachel Stubbs from the UK, Laura Scavuzzo from Italy, Pedro Mira from Portugal and Benjamin Probanza from Mexico.

Using 4,000 tonnes of sand it all starts with wooden forms in which the sand is compacted.

It takes 15 people seven days to get the forms ready for the carvers to come in and do their work, and the result is more than 40 stunning sculptures made using just sand and water.
257C0559“The sculptures need to be planned, researched and designed before the sculptors arrive on site,” Antonia adds. “After that, depending on size and detail, it can take anywhere between three days and 14 days to carve.”
The only question now is what will you create next time you find yourself on a sandy beach with a bucket and spade in hand?

Brighton Sand Sculpture Festival is located on the beach at the Madeira Drive, Black Rock Site, next to the last station of the historic Volks Railway ( the oldest electric railway in the world. A ticket to the festival includes a one way trip on the Volks Railway from the station by Brighton Pier, as a convenient, but mostly fun, way to get to the site.

Open from 10.30am – 5.30pm everyday until September 28. For more information, visit, follow it on twitter @SandScluptureUK or like on


To view a video of last year’s sand festival click here


admin June 27, 2014 Culture and Events