Upcoming Busan Sand Festival

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This weekend (29th May) sees the start of the Busan Sand Festival at Haeundae beach. The theme for this years festival is children’s stories (fairy tales) and there are some really excellent sculptures to greet the visitors.

For the last week I strolled along the beach to chat to the artists and see the progress they are making.

The first note, is that they are all professional sculptors and travel the world producing their art for all to see.

The sculptors come from Holland, Mexico, Korea, Italy, USA and Canada. To many of us, and I was one until this week, it just seemed that carving shapes in the sand was all that there was to this art form, but how wrong could we be! – I cannot even get a kiddies bucket of sand to stand up.

Surprisingly there is a science to this art, for example there are different types of sand, the sand in Haeundae is particularly difficult because it is Sea Sand meaning that it has been rolled by the waves producing a more polished grain with rounded edges. This makes it difficult to ‘stack’ the grains into a vertical shape, rather like trying to make a wall out of tennis balls. River sand is apparently much better and can be set into vertical shapes.

Putting the science behind us, we now need to stop it from blowing away, being eroded by the weather or just crumbling as it dries out, for this a solution of glue and water is sprayed on to the finished surface to bond it and give some protection from the elements. This siolution is sprayed onto the finished area rather than mixed with the sand, it may provide a little protection from slight rain but being soluble it can still be easily broken down,

By watching the sculptors you get an insight to the degree of difficulty and time required for even the simplest items in the design.

One sculptor was blowing the grains of sand with a straw to ensure the sharpness in detail, another example were the leaves on the trees, each leaf required a single spatula of damp sand be applied per leaf and accurately placed before the sun dried the sand out.

 The toolkits of these artists contain straws, brushes, knives, spatulas just to name a few. A white soluble glue similar to that used in schools is the setting agent that is used by all of the artists and can be seen in the large blue drums.

The designs (in no particular order) are Peter Pan , Aladdin, Hansel and Gretel, Wizard of Oz, The Hares Liver (Korean) , 잭과 공나무 (Jack and the beanstalk)

 The massive size of these sculptures are a sight to behold and even more intriguing is the fact that they are on an inclined plane, meaning that for the details to look correct to the eye, some of the actual sizes have to be enlarged so that the perspective gives the correct proportions, an example would be the size of the hand on Aladdin is actually the same size as his head which is not normally the case.

For the budding photographer wanting to take photos of these structures you will need a wide lens  as much as 14mm and the best time of day would be early morning or late in the afternoon so that the sun doesn’t blow the detail out of the sand sculptures.

This weekend should be a fantastic event and really marks the start of the summer season in Busan. Let us remember to say thanks to the sculptors and Busan City for what will be a jam packed few days.

see more photos on Flickr :



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