An artist’s life – 4

February 15, 2008

Last night I slept 12 hours. Bone tired, I was. Not to say that I wasn’t content in my tiredness, because I was. You see, the past two weeks have been spent preparing for and executing a site specific sculpture at the Friendly Beaches Eco-Lodge on the east coast of Tasmania. The only requirements were that the sculpture was to be “ephemeral”, be comprised of natural materials and relate to the surrounding environment before degrading back into nature. (My last blog of two weeks ago—apologies for missing last week—had two photos of the full scale model I had assembled here before I went as an experiment into whether or not I could create a three dimensional model of the phyllotaxis pattern found in a sunflower.) The photos below are of the actual “sand galaxy” mandala constructed over the past week at the lodge.


My tiredness was mainly a result of the huge physical effort needed to haul several tons of sand and dirt to the site to build the 460 individual “seed” mounds that graduated in size from two feet in diameter down to three inches in diameter. The overall diameter of the piece was just under 20 feet or 6.5 meters. Without the help of Oliver, Ron and Sally, it would not have been completed on time. To them I owe a heap of thanks.


As for the ephemeral quality of the piece, within an hour of “finishing” it a gale force storm roared in and lashed the area with wind and rain. At the time it hit, I was on the way to a local restaurant to celebrate the completion of the sculpture. As I sat at the dining table looking out through the gigantic plate glass window that framed the beautiful Mt. Hazards, I was doing anything but celebrating. Too bad about it only lasting an hour, I thought.

galaxy_sand_3 My only consolation was that I had at least made it ephemeral; sort of like the sand mandalas the Gyoto monks create and then cast away off the mountain or into the sea. In bed that night the rain drumming on the roof constantly belted out the refrain of temporality to all existence.

galaxy_sand_4The following morning my fears proved groundless. The rain did change the sculpture, but not in a destructive manner. In fact, the effect of the hitting rain drops was to create a beautiful hammered look, much like a stone sculptor would impart on granite. Yes, it lost the smooth, pristine quality of fine, dry sand slowly drizzled, but it’s new appearance was—as in the changing of all life forms—just an ageing process that could be looked at with either awe or a sense of loss. I choose the former.


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