Our trip to Looe to recreate classic sculptures
“The Discus Thrower” Anon
We gathered in our group and were instructed as to what we had to achieve. The task to me seemed a daunting one as it was a large scale project unlike anything I had done before and as we had been given ‘The Discus Thrower’ by Anon we had a challenging piece to recreate. It was clear that it would require a level of accuracy and attention to detail that was similar to, but not quite as in depth, as that found in the piece “Sun Tunnels” by Nancy Holt.
Despite all this I was keen to give it a go, unfortunately a few of our group were also eager to get stuck in but with little communication were doing different things in a rather scrambled way. There were people pouring buckets of water on the sand, people digging to get to the wetter sand and people levelling out the surface but right next where others were digging their holes. The rest of us looked on a little confused so I suggested that marking out the space we would need to work on would be a good place to start. I was upset to find I was ignored several times before another group member repeated my suggestion and finally it was acknowledged.
As we were marking it by using peoples actual feet two guys with similarly sized feet began counting out steps, one doing the length, the other the width. This gave us a rectangle but it was a rather wonky one. I advised that the person who had measured the width re walk the 8 steps several times along the length of the rectangle, this way we would be able to get the two lines of the length parallel to each other. Again I was ignored, several times, but after another team member picked up on what I had said and repeated it the guy eventually did this and we were able to get our rectangle.
By this point I was left feeling slightly disheartened, and a little stressed, as I felt that I was unable to contribute to the group and so I decided to take a back seat and let the two dominant members to continue to lead the way. Meanwhile the group next to us were using a plank of wood to smooth the surface of the sand. This seemed to be an effective method and so we asked to use the plank after they were finished. As they were also using it to mark the lines of their grid it was taking a while and a few groups were also waiting to use it so I saw the opportunity to be productive and went to find another plank to enable us and all the other groups to use this technique with less of a wait.
I returned triumphant with my plank of wood to find we had finally been passed on the original plank and it was being used to smooth our surface, I double checked that we would no longer need it and was told we wouldn’t, so I gave it to another group. After our space was level the original plank was also passed on but without the lines being marked. This meant that our hand drawn lines of our grid turned out wobbly and quite uneven whilst all the groups around us had very neat looking grids as a result of using the planks. I tried to rectify this by reclaiming a plank and going over to straighten up our lines but it was still far messier then it had needed to be.
People started to mark out the outline of our figure whilst myself and Byron dug a hole nearby to create a pile of wet sand to use to make our sculpture. Then as the outline was completed we opted to all take a section of the figure to build. After Myself and another girl attempted the face and found it challenging we decided it was time to take a break to be able to return to our work refreshed.
After my break I found the face that I had been working on had been destroyed as the other members who had continued working weren’t happy with it. I felt annoyed that they couldn’t have waited and talked to me about it when I got back as they all had other areas to keep working on. Nevertheless I carried on for some time but kept finding it was out of proportion or not at the right angle, I also struggled with keeping the sand wet and so it was prone to falling away. We had other issues with the proportions of an arm, a leg and the torso. We all thought that the angles the sculpture was positioned in was what was making it very challenging to translate into sand. After a while we realised that standing back to take it all in as one was a good idea as we had been so focused on our own little areas.
Eventually I conceded and offered the face to someone else, I didn’t feel that I had the ability to get it right and as it was one of the last parts left uncompleted and time was running out I thought this would be the most beneficial thing to do. I then began to focus on the presentation: clearing the surrounding area, digging away, levelling sand and giving it a tidy up. I encouraged other group members to help with this who weren’t already keeping the sculpture damp or involved with still working on their chosen areas.
I feel that If we had begun with a more accurate grid that it would have made this stage easier. Also if we had assigned roles to people as specific ‘sand dampeners’ and worked from one end of the sculpture to the other, rather then individual areas, it would have looked more consistent. Aspects such as whether the edges were curved, which is and integral part of a realistic sculpture, weren’t really talked about and were done at the last minute. Overall I think our problems were a result of a lack of communication and a non effective team work.
As the judges came around we stood back and took a look at our finished piece, I then had a look around at the other work around the beach. I thought that ours was not as aesthetically appealing as the others, I particularly liked the Venus De Milo and how the shapes created by the folds in her robe worked well in the sand, also Marc Quinn’s Alison Lapper Pregnant sculpture caught my eye with it’s smooth, rounded curves. It was impressive to see all of the finished pieces spaced across the beach, so much so that there were a lot of members of the public gathering around and inspecting them as if they were in an art gallery. The completed sculptures reminded me of Robert Smithsons ‘Jetty’ and how using natural materials can enable the work to blend with it’s environment.
“Alison Lapper Pregnant” Recreated by PCA Students
“Venus De Milo” Recreated by PCA Students
When the judges announced we had come third I was genuinely shocked, I still don’t necessarily think we deserved this but I think they must have taken into account the complexity of our figure. I was exhausted after the long day that had been consistently hot throughout and was glad to be finished. I hadn’t realised just how achievable yet stunning working with sand could be and so although the day hadn’t gone as smoothly as it could have sand sculpturing is something I would love to try again in my own time, in a more relaxed manner.